Microsoft just announced that it is planning to make its Kinect motion control technology compatible with its Windows operating system.
The company also launched a competition that will award $20,000 to the 10 best developers of Kinect applications for Windows. Several applications from this contest could bring on the future of computer and motion control technology.
Microsoft previously sent out a beta software developer kits and launched a website for the Kinect-Windows project.
Craig Eisler, general manager of Kinect for Windows, broke the news on the project's blog.
"Since announcing a few weeks ago that the Kinect for Windows commercial program will launch in early 2012, we’ve been asked whether there will also be new Kinect hardware especially for Windows,” said Eisler.
"The answer is yes; building on the existing Kinect for Xbox 360 device, we have optimized certain hardware components and made firmware adjustments which better enable PC-centric scenarios. Coupled with the numerous upgrades and improvements our team is making to the Software Development Kit (SDK) and runtime, the new hardware delivers features and functionality that Windows developers and Microsoft customers have been asking for,” Eisler continued.
"Simple changes include shortening the USB cable to ensure reliability across a broad range of computers and the inclusion of a small dongle to improve coexistence with other USB peripherals. Of particular interest to developers will be the new firmware which enables the depth camera to see objects as close as 50 centimeters in front of the device without losing accuracy or precision, with graceful degradation down to 40 centimeters,” Eisler added, mentioning improvements and new features Kinect will now sport.
"Near Mode will enable a whole new class of "close up" applications, beyond the living room scenarios for Kinect for Xbox 360,” Eisler said.
Kinect has sold 10 million units so far. Games such as “Dance Central” and “Rise of Nightmares” were made specifically for the Xbox 360 device.
More than 200 companies are already reported to be developing projects for its Kinect for Windows program.
As for the contest, called the "Kinect Accelerator" program, it is currently accepting applications through Jan. 25. Microsoft is planning to run an event that will let the winners demo their products for potential investors.
The upcoming Windows 8 OS should feature Kinect technology in the future.
The video below shows how Kinect works with Windows 7.