Microsoft’s Kinect for Windows SDK will be released in beta form this week, according to Microsoft Spain president María Garaña, the toolkit allowing developers to use the motion-tracking hardware with PCs rather than the Xbox 360. Among the initially supported features, WinRumors reports, will be skeletal tracking for one or two people along with use of the four-microphone array.
That array is coupled with acoustic noise and echo cancellation, and can pinpoint which person in the field of view is speaking. Microsoft will also link it with the existing Windows speech recognition API, opening up the possibility of two users individually controlling a PC with their voice, and the system automatically recognizing which commands come from which person.
Finally, there’s XYZ depth perception to allow the Kinect camera – and the connected PC – to track how far away a user is. Microsoft’s gaming platform uses all this for motion-controlled titles such as sports, bowling and other games; back at E3 2011 the company confirmed that Star Wars would be coming to Kinect, as well as Mass Effect 3 and other titles.
For the PC, while gaming is likely to be one strand of Kinect’s use, Microsoft has also talked about its potential for other applications. Remote control of an HTPC – without having to navigate either a complex remote or wireless keyboard – is one suggestion, along with control of presentations and other media. With the Kinect for Windows SDK, third-party developers will also be able to bake support into their apps.
The Microsoft announcement will be held online via the company’s Channel 9, at 9.30am PST on Thursday June 16.