Microsoft's Kinect voice and motion control capabilities will soon expand beyond the Xbox 360 gaming console. The software giant has revealed plans to release new Kinect hardware designed specifically for Windows. This new device would sport hardware components optimized for PC scenarios and will be made available by early 2012.
Optimizing the Kinect hardware for PC usage will involve several adjustments, such as shortening the USB cable to ensure a reliable connection for all kinds of computers as well as including a small dongle to make the device connect more easily with other USB devices.
Software-wise, the Kinect for Windows will have to be tweaked to enable the depth camera to perceive objects as close as 50 centimeters in front of the device, or about 1.5 feet. This so called "Near Mode" could enable a whole new category of up-close apps to be developed.
The Kinect for Windows hardware should launch commercially in early 2012. Microsoft had released a Kinect for Windows SDK beta version for testing and academic use back in June and launched a Kinect Accelerator program last week that will pick ten finalists to receive $20,000 in funding to advance the development of Kinect.