Want to use your Kinect motion sensor with Windows PC? Microsoft has officially released Kinect for Windows SDK, initially as beta version, which comes complete with APIs, sample code, and drivers. Kinect is a very popular gaming peripheral for XBox 360, which has been sold more than 10 millions units. Previously, many programmers have developed unofficial drivers for Kinect for various devices to allow Kinect device to interact with the host system.

The Kinect was originally released for Xbox 360 game console system, to allow controller-less motion control and voice control game playing. Microsoft called the Kinect as natural user interface. With the official release of Kinect driver for Windows 7, now the keyboard and mouse for the computer can be do away, replacing natural UI input via Kinnect connected to PC which has sensor to detect voice command and on-air finger gestures, swipe, tap and other body motion control.

Kinect SDK and Drivers for Windows

This Kinect for Windows SDK includes the following features:

  • Raw sensor streams – Access to raw data streams from the depth sensor, color camera sensor, and four-element microphone array enables developers to build upon the low-level streams that are generated by the Kinect sensor.
  • Skeletal tracking – The capability to track the skeleton image of one or two people moving within the Kinect field of view make it easy to create gesture-driven applications.
  • Advanced audio capabilities – Audio processing capabilities include sophisticated acoustic noise suppression and echo cancellation, beam formation to identify the current sound source, and integration with the Windows speech recognition API.
  • Sample code and documentation – The SDK includes more than 100 pages of technical documentation. In addition to built-in help files, the documentation includes detailed walkthroughs for most samples provided with the SDK.
  • Easy installation – The SDK installs quickly, requires no complex configuration, and the complete installer size is less than 100 MB. Developers can get up and running in just a few minutes with a standard standalone Kinect sensor unit (widely available at retail outlets).

The Kinect for Windows SDK beta works only on Windows 7, and includes drivers, APIs, installation documents, and resource materials. With the SDK, developers can build applications that utilized Kinect capabilities with C++, C#, or Visual Basic by using Microsoft Visual Studio 2010.

The Kinect SDK for Windows is available as free download for experimental and non-commercial purposes, targeting at academic and hobbyist application developers. A commercial version of Kinect SDK will be released later for companies who want to develop Kinect apps for sales.

Microsoft first announced Kinect support few months ago, after the Kinect device was hacked to perform various out-of-imagination tasks. It demoed several applications of Kinect on computer during MIX conference in April, including navigating 3-D maps of the universe from the Worldwide Telescope with hand movements, using a walking navigation service that helps people with impaired sight, and steering a motorized recliner on wheels with gestures. When officially announced Kinect SDK, a Code Camp was held, which resulted in an application to fly a drone helicopter and voice motion, a video conferencing application that automatically zoom the camera in on the speaker during a meeting, and Kinductor, a program to teach someone how to conduct a virtual orchestra. The demo applications just show how wide and the possibilities of Kinect applications.

Download Kinect for Windows SDK from http://research.microsoft.com/en-us/um/redmond/projects/kinectsdk/download.aspx.