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Microsoft Reportedly Ends Production of Kinect Cameras

A report on Wednesday citing Microsoft officials indicates that Microsoft is no longer manufacturing Kinect cameras.

Kinect cameras were originally Xbox 360 gaming console accessory devices that were later added directly into Xbox One consoles. According to this Co.design article, however, the cameras were just another extra cost in a competitive console world.

The end of the Kinect camera as a Microsoft product was confirmed in that article, citing talks with Kinect's creator, Alex Kipman, a Technical Fellow at Microsoft, as well as Matthew Lapsen, general manager for Xbox marketing.

Kinect was first launched as product in 2010, but Microsoft may have since moved on with its HoloLens devices. The HoloLens line has gradually expanded what gets included in the user's field of view. The progression went from "virtual reality" to "augmented reality" (which includes the room environment) to the current "mixed reality" phase. Microsoft describes mixed reality as the "blending of the physical world with the digital world," according to this developer document. Mixed reality also includes the use of environmental inputs, including sound and location.

Microsoft described its Windows 10 Fall Creators Update as being "the first spatial operating system" that will light up "mixed reality" experiences using HoloLens headsets. New mixed reality headset designs will be coming this holiday season from Acer, Dell, HP, Lenovo and Samsung, according to a Microsoft announcement this month.

Kipman described the evolution of HoloLens as making machines capable of better interactions within the human world. In addition, Microsoft has been working to expand what the HoloLens devices can track. The idea is to go beyond tracking human gestures to tracking the space around people, and letting people drag holograms into that space, according to the article.

The Kinect sensor is still being developed, despite Microsoft's discontinuation of the Kinect camera product. Version 5 of the Kinect sensor will be arriving, but it's destined for inclusion in the "augmented reality HoloLens," according to the article.

The article did not mention what will happen next for the Kinect developer community, and whether a software development kit will still be available. Kinect cameras had been used in various commercial and research devices, as well as Microsoft's Xbox gaming console.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.

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