Microsoft has used today's Kinect SDK Beta event, taking place at the time of writing, to debut its Kinect for Windows SDK.
The SDK is designed to give professionals, academics and hobbyists access to the Kinect and its APIs, allowing people to tackle – in an official capacity – the kind of work and research previously confined to the 'Kinect Hacks' scene.
“The Kinect for Windows SDK opens up a world of possibilities to developers who want to unleash the power of Kinect technology on Windows,” said Anoop Gupta, a renowned scientist at Microsoft Research. “We can’t wait to see what this community will create as we work together to build more natural, intuitive computing experiences.”
The Kinect SDK for Windows provides access to the hardware's raw streams, such as the RGB camera, depth camera and microphones, as well as skeletal tracking, and a number of advanced audio features such as echo cancelation, noise cancellation and integration with windows speech APIs.
Microsoft has promised the SDK will be easy to install, and it is supported by 100s of pages of documentation.
"We hope all of this will make it easy for developers academics and enthusiasts to make amazing things on top of the SDK," said Gupta at the event.
Making clear that the current Kinect for Windows SDK is a beta, and appealing for feedback to improve the platform, Gupta also confirmed that the current SDK is non-commercial and free to use and download.
"Although our intent is to make a commercial build of the SDK, we are not annoucing anything today," he stated.
Gupta concluded by saying that by giving away the SDK and making Kinect an more accesible and useful Windows controller, a revolution in personal computing could begin: "Everything is now in place to make interaction with computers more natural to us all."
The Kinect for Windows SDK can be downloaded here.
As detailed in a statement to the press, features of the SDK include the following:
• Raw Sensor Streams. Developers have access to raw data streams from depth sensor, color camera sensor and the four-element microphone array. These will allow them to build upon the low-level streams generated by the Kinect sensor.
• Skeletal Tracking. The SDK has the capability to track the skeleton image of one or two people moving within the Kinect field of view, making it possible to create gesture-driven applications.
• Advanced Audio Capabilities. Audio processing capabilities include sophisticated noise suppression and echo cancellation, beam formation to identify the current sound source, and integration with the Windows speech recognition API.
• Ease of installation. The SDK quickly installs in a standard way for Windows 7 with no complex configuration required and a complete installer size of 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.
• Extensive documentation. The SDK includes more than 100 pages of high-quality technical documentation. In addition to built-in help files, the documentation includes detailed walkthroughs for most samples provided with the SDK.