Microsoft's Kinect has proved a great enabler for many a company or research team who were looking for an affordable solution to their advanced motion sensing troubles. We've seen Kinect mounted on top of a custom built small scale helicopter
capable of automated flight; it has even been used as part of a giant eyeball
A lot of commercially interested groups have wanted to use Kinect in a more practical manner, but there's one major hurdle. Despite the fact that Microsoft's research has made the perfect combination of sensors and cameras incredibly affordable, the size of the device and optimum focal range of the camera array proved to be impractical for 'desktop' application. To this end Microsoft have announced Kinect for Windows
This specialised hardware configuration will feature "optimized certain hardware components and... firmware adjustments which better enable PC-centric scenarios". The most notable of these is the ability for the streamlined Kinect to focus on objects 50cm away, or closer.
This means we'll likely be seeing optional, yet deep Kinect integration into Windows 8 and its associated applications, perhaps even at a hardware level in some configurations, allowing us to take a more integrated approach to our daily use of computers. Beyond this there will certainly be commercial ventures as Microsoft have detailed a licensing agreement to which interested parties can sign up, which will assure them "access to ongoing updates in both speech and human tracking".
Expect more details on this to trickle forward in the months leading up to the public release of Windows 8 as the Kinect for Windows SDK settles and yields more impressive results.