Kinect for Windows – Building the Future

Since announcing a few weeks ago that the Kinect for Windows commercial program will launch in early 2012, we’ve been asked whether there will also be new Kinect hardware especially for Windows. The answer is yes; building on the existing Kinect for Xbox 360 device, we have optimized certain hardware components and made firmware adjustments which better enable PC-centric scenarios. Coupled with the numerous upgrades and improvements our team is making to the Software Development Kit (SDK) and runtime, the new hardware delivers features and functionality that Windows developers and Microsoft customers have been asking for.

Simple changes include shortening the USB cable to ensure reliability across a broad range of computers and the inclusion of a small dongle to improve coexistence with other USB peripherals.  Of particular interest to developers will be the new firmware which enables the depth camera to see objects as close as 50 centimeters in front of the device without losing accuracy or precision, with graceful degradation down to 40 centimeters.  “Near Mode” will enable a whole new class of “close up” applications, beyond the living room scenarios for Kinect for Xbox 360. This is one of the most requested features from the many developers and companies participating in our Kinect for Windows pilot program and folks commenting on our forums, and we’re pleased to deliver this, and more, at launch.

Another thing we’ve heard from our pilot customers is that companies exploring commercial uses of Kinect want to operate with the assurance of support and future innovation from Microsoft. As part of Microsoft’s deep commitment to NUI, we designed the Kinect for Windows commercial program to give licensed customers access to ongoing updates in both speech and human tracking (where Microsoft has been investing for years), in addition to providing fully supported Kinect hardware for Windows. We’ve been captivated by the countless creative ways companies worldwide envision how their businesses and industries can be revolutionized with Kinect, and are proud to be helping those companies to explore the profound implications NUI has for the future.

Microsoft also has just launched a new initiative, the Kinect Accelerator incubation project run by Microsoft BizSpark. I will be serving as a Mentor for this program, along with a number of other folks from Microsoft. BizSpark helps software startups through access to Microsoft software development tools, connection to key industry players (including investors) and by providing marketing visibility.  The Kinect Accelerator will give 10 tech-oriented companies using Kinect (on either Windows or Xbox360) an investment of $20,000 each, plus a number of other great perks. Applications are being accepted now through January 25th, 2012. At the end of the program, each company will have an opportunity to present at an Investor Demo Day to angel investors, venture capitalists, Microsoft executives (including me), media and industry influentials. I can’t wait to see what they (and maybe you?) come up with!


Craig Eisler
General Manager, Kinect for Windows

Comments (34)
  1. pradeeplive says:

    This is great news… Will it be a PC exclusive  ??

  2. Cool! Does the the new Kinect sensor for Windows supports USB 3.0 or still USB 2.0?

    Also the XBOX 360 logo isn't on that Kinect? Would be nice.

  3. Daniel Brierton says:

    Will the new Kinect for Windows work on the 360 as well? I want near mode, but I also want to be able to use the Kinect on my 360 and can't afford to buy two.

  4. SeeR says:

    So will Kinect SDK will be available from WinRT in a way that Windows 8 that App Store will accept it?

  5. Trent says:

    Bah, does this mean that the xbox SDK will be deprecated? I've just acquired a kinect just for working with the SDK, does this mean that I just send money to the trash?

  6. jahxp says:

    I wish we could control Windows 8 with Kinect. With voice and with our hands.

  7. Kinect Developer says:

    Any word on support for hand tracking or partial body tracking? Users sitting at the desktop will not be fuly in view.

  8. Anxious Kinect owner says:

    I bought my Kinect because I wanted to use it with Windows 8 as well as my Xbox. Will the new firmware come to the new Kinect, or did I throw money away?

  9. Sean says:

    Note that you can write Kinect programs using Python as well.  This open source & free library is also from Microsoft: (click on PyKinect)

  10. Stay tuned; we’ll have all the details for you early next year. In the meantime, join us on the Kinect for Windows forums for ongoing discussions about the SDK:…/threads.

  11. dheophe says:

    When the sensor will go out ? I really want it 🙂

  12. John D says:

    This is excellent; we're developing Kinect apps for our company to use internally on jobsites currently. Glad to see the platform is being refined.

  13. xpclient says:

    Great so now my existing Kinect is obsolete for PC and I need to have multiple Kinects for Xbox and PC! Why don't you ship a free downloadable firmware update for existing Kinect.

  14. Marco says:

    Kinect should have the recognitions of people sit down in a couch, or people with wheel chair. Doesn't works with them, Microsoft should get better this aspect

  15. Chris Ballard says:

    Will it be possible to update the firmware to the new version on existing Kinect for XBOX 360 devices?

  16. Tim Huckaby says:

    Listen to the the .NET Rocks! show, go to the links to learn about a very creative way to get Kinect in Metro Apps for Windows 8:

  17. Anonymous says:

    I can't believe the first comment is something like… that what it is.

  18. The Windows platform is a very different platform than that of the Xbox 360, and the Kinect for Xbox 360 is only tested and supported for use on the Xbox platform. While our Kinect for Windows SDK has been and can still be used by developers and enthusiasts with the Kinect for Xbox 360 in non-commercial scenarios, the Kinect for Windows hardware + runtime has been created specifically for the deployment of Windows applications, and is the only supported way of using Kinect with Windows commercially. This ensures that everyone – developers, solutions providers, and end users – has access to a fully tested and supported Kinect experience on Windows, with PC-optimized features like Near Mode and ongoing access to Microsoft's deep investment in human tracking and speech.

  19. Artist Grants says:

    Any possibility of artist grants for artists who want to use Kinect in projects?

  20. Michael Tolano says:

    What the Kinect for windows team just said in that earlier post without actually saying it is that Microsoft currently has NO PLANS TO PUSH NEAR MODE to the 360 version of Kinect. If they did then all those who wanted to use Kinect for PC and 360 would only need one and they would then miss out on a revenue stream. We all know that the hardware will be the same, but if YOU want near mode you will have to buy a new Kinect, Oh and that one WONT work on your 360 because the firmware will likely disable the security for xbox function so that it wont be detected properly by the system and the drivers wont load.

  21. Larry Davis says:

    what gesture would be the CTRL+ALT+DEL :))

  22. Jonathan Alligood says:

    @ Larry Davis

    Face Palm of course.

  23. John W says:

    The Kinect Accelerator program is all well and good, but my company just wants a plain commercial license so we can bundle a Kinect in with our product. (We don't need any funding nor investors.) When will such a license be available?

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  25. Gautam Muduganti says:

    It's very disappointing to know that this won't work with the Xbox 360.

    I realize that the Windows platform is different from the Xbox platform but this difference should only affect the way these devices interface with the Kinnect. To be honest I don't know how Kinnect functions internally but I am trying to understand why it can't act like an independent entity (something like the HDD or the Wireless Controller) and leave the platform differences to the devices.

    If this is because of technical limitations then it's understandable but if this is really due to revenues streams like what Michael pointed out it's terrible.

  26. Near Mode says:

    is desperately needed for the 360. I don't understand MS's un-willingness to make the Kinect a viable product for apartment dwellers and people with small living spaces. My current Kinect is near unusable with 6ft of distance between it and the play area. They are saying this is fixed with a firmware update so PC's user can enjoy, why not with existing owners whom's Kinect is collecting dust??

  27. Louie says:

    can somebody help me in developing program for kinect? a source code of kinect controlling power point presentaion.. tnx! email me…

  28. Jeff says:

    I see multiple hacked together methods to control windows using a Kinect. Is there an "official" method?

  29. Tim says:

    There is a sort of near mode accessory for the 360 (…/120810051654) and it puts a lens over the camera that allows you to use the Kinect in much smaller spaces like small apartments. Just a thought for those making the comments on here.

    ZOOM KInect

  30. Windows 8 Entusiast says:

    Will we get a software to control Windows 8 Metro UI by Kinect. Please tell !!!!!!!

  31. Henry says:

    So cool!  I can now buy Kinect and use it to my PC. Thanks to MS for bringing up Kinect to Windows based PC.

  32. Warren Khan says:

    Any plans to allow the hardware to work with other operating systems?

  33. Karolynaz says:

    First app that was build using Kinect for Windows:

  34. Wim Bonjean says:

    BUT did the first custom Kinect interactive video wall before the SDK was even available. Check this out:

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