After announcing a Kinect for Windows commercial program will launch in early 2012, Microsoft has also revealed it will release new hardware as well. Building on the Kinect for Xbox 360 motion sensor device, Microsoft will optimise and update certain hardware and firmware to enable better compatibility with Windows machines.
Basic changes include a shorter USB cable to increase reliability and the inclusion of a small dongle to improve coexistence with other PC peripherals. Updated firmware will allow the depth camera to see objects as close as 50 centimetres without losing accuracy or precision. According to Microsoft, this amendment was the most requested among developers and companies participating in its Kinect for Windows pilot program.
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Companies exploring the commercial uses of Kinect will also benefit from Microsoft support and receive ongoing updates in both speech and human tracking. The software giant says: “We’ve been captivated by the countless creative ways companies worldwide envision how their businesses and industries can be revolutionised with Kinect, and are proud to be helping those companies to explore the profound implications NUI has for the future.”
Microsoft has also launched a Kinect Accelerator initiative which will give 10 technology companies using the device an investment of $20,000 each for demonstrating innovative applications. The project is open to entrants now and will close on 25 January 2012.