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Microsoft To Release Kinect 2 for Windows in Summer

The next iteration of Microsoft's Kinect camera is on pace to arrive for Windows this summer, confirmed Chris White, Microsoft's senior program manager for Kinect, at last week's National Retail Federation (NRF) show in New York.

While Kinect is best-known as Microsoft's motion-sensor technology for Xbox gaming consoles, the company in 2012 launched a version of the sensor for Windows PCs.

The new Kinect 2 will sport an HD (1080p) swivel camera with 1920x1080 resolution, support for 30 frames per second (FPS) and a 16:9 aspect ratio. These specs are an improvement over the first-generation Kinect's 640×480 (480p) resolution, 30 FPS support and 4:3 aspect ratio, according to a post by 123Kinect.

Many retailers and distributors of apparel and other consumer goods should find Kinect 2's improvements appealing for product development. A number of Microsoft partners were demonstrating how they use Kinect for Windows at Microsoft's NRF booth last week.

One such Microsoft partner is FaceCake, a company that has developed what it calls a virtual dressing room. Using its swivel camera, customers can visualize how apparel will look on them. With Kinect 2's HD capabilities and other features, the swivel camera will also be able to provide better detail and will be useful for gestures, explained Tom Chamberlin, FaceCake's vice president of business development.

Microsoft has hundreds of developers working with the new Kinect 2 SDK. The deadline for participating in the preview program is Jan. 31.  As of last week, Microsoft is believed to have filled 300 of the 500 preview slots.

Among those testing Kinect 2 is NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which has already used it to control a robotic arm.

About the Author

Jeffrey Schwartz is editor of Redmond magazine and also covers cloud computing for Virtualization Review's Cloud Report. In addition, he writes the Channeling the Cloud column for Redmond Channel Partner. Follow him on Twitter @JeffreySchwartz.