On January 9th, Steve Ballmer announced at CES that we would be shipping Kinect for Windows on February 1st. I am very pleased to report that today version 1.0 of our SDK and runtime were made available for download, and distribution partners in our twelve launch countries are starting to ship Kinect for Windows hardware, enabling companies to start to deploy their solutions. The suggested retail price is $249, and later this year, we will offer special academic pricing of $149 for Qualified Educational Users.
In the three months since we released Beta 2, we have made many improvements to our SDK and runtime, including:
- Support for up to four Kinect sensors plugged into the same computer
- Significantly improved skeletal tracking, including the ability for developers to control which user is being tracked by the sensor
- Near Mode for the new Kinect for Windows hardware, which enables the depth camera to see objects as close as 40 centimeters in front of the device
- Many API updates and enhancements in the managed and unmanaged runtimes
- The latest Microsoft Speech components (V11) are now included as part of the SDK and runtime installer
- Improved “far-talk” acoustic model that increases speech recognition accuracy
- New and updated samples, such as Kinect Explorer, which enables developers to explore the full capabilities of the sensor and SDK, including audio beam and sound source angles, color modes, depth modes, skeletal tracking, and motor controls
- A commercial-ready installer which can be included in an application’s set-up program, making it easy to install the Kinect for Windows runtime and driver components for end-user deployments.
- Robustness improvements including driver stability, runtime fixes, and audio fixes
More details can be found here.
As I mentioned in an earlier blog post, without many years of intense R&D efforts, including research investments of hundreds of millions of dollars, and deep partnership between our research teams, software teams, hardware teams, manufacturing teams, and games studios, Kinect simply wouldn’t exist. Shipping Kinect for Windows was another cross-Microsoft effort: not only did the hardware and software teams work closely together to create an integrated solution, but our support, manufacturing, supply chain, reverse logistics, and account teams have all been working hard to prepare for today’s launch. As well, our research, speech, and Xbox NUI teams have contributed to making Kinect for Windows a better product. Microsoft’s ability to make these kinds of deep investments makes Kinect for Windows a product that companies can deploy with confidence, knowing you have our support and our ongoing commitment to make Kinect for Windows the best it can be.
Looking towards the future, we are planning on releasing updates to our SDK and runtime 2-3 times per year – in fact, the team is already hard at work on the next release. We are continuing to invest in programs like our Testing and Adoption Program and the Kinect Accelerator, and will work to create new programs in the future to help support our developer and partner ecosystem. We will also continue to listen to our developer community and business customers for the kinds of features and capabilities they need, as they re-imagine the future of computing using the power of Kinect.
General Manager, Kinect for Windows