In case you’ve been living under a rock for the past few months, Microsoft is about to start official support for Kinect on Windows-based PCs. The Kinect for Windows program kicks off early next year and will bring with it a new model of the motion-sensing peripheral.
Speaking via the Kinect for Windows blog on the Microsoft Developer Network, general manager Craig Eisler announced that the new iteration of Kinect will feature minor hardware tweaks to make the unit more PC-friendly. Such adjustments include a shorter USB cable as well as a dongle for ease of connectivity. That’s all pretty boring; what’s really neat is that Kinect for Windows will feature a new firmware version that will allow the camera to focus on objects and users as close as 50cm away. This “Near Mode” is a damn sight (pun LOL!) better than Kinect for Xbox 360, which requires you to be at least two to three metres from the camera before it begins to function properly.
It looks like Microsoft is putting a lot of emphasis on Kinect for Windows. A full mentorship as well as development grants program has been set up in order to kick-start application development. The flip side of all of this is that it sounds as if you’ll need to pick up a Kinect for Windows sensor if you’re hoping to wave your arms around in front of your PC. It’s not exactly clear, but it seems like your dusty Xbox 360 Kinect controller won’t be able to just plug in and go once the official program hits Windows PCs. Bummer.