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Kinect Isn't Just for Xbox Anymore

Don't blink or you'll miss another critical step as Microsoft converges all of its interfaces.

In a 25-day span, Microsoft has unveiled UIs for Windows Phone "Mango" and a tablet-ready "Windows 8," and now has extended the Kinect motion-sensing technology from its Xbox origins to Windows.

Microsoft on Thursday released a downloadable beta of a Kinect software development kit (SDK) that makes it possible for developers to create applications for Windows 7 that recognize user input from Kinect sensor devices.

While a partner's first instinct might be to dismiss the Kinect stuff as a gaming novelty (I'll admit that was my first read on Kinect), some more alert observers see it as the logical next step in Microsoft's interface manipulation.

After looking at the Windows 8 UI two weeks ago, Evolve Technologies CEO Dave Sobel noted that the Xbox Kinect motion sensor technology would make an interesting companion to the new Windows 8 gesture interface.

"What if I use the Kinect to make those motions? The interface on Xbox is not all that different from what we're seeing in [Windows] Phone 7, Mango and now Windows 8. Microsoft is actually quietly standardizing on interface," Sobel said at the time.

Now, a Windows SDK for Kinect is available; for now the SDK is strictly for prototype and enthusiast work. Next will come a commercial version of the SDK, and Microsoft also demonstrated a Kinect speech engine, providing yet another potential way for users to interact with their Microsoft-based systems and applications.

After what's seemed like a long fallow period at Microsoft, when there was more public talk about innovation than tangible evidence of it, things have started moving very, very fast.


Posted by Scott Bekker on June 16, 2011