Develop has reported that Microsoft delivered their final keynote speech at CES yesterday, where Microsoft announced the Kinect platform will be coming to the Windows platform on February 1, 2012.
The Kinect was initially released for the XBox 360 on November 4, 2010. Since then, the device has been used for many motion-based games. However, soon after release, many found several other uses for this seemingly humble gaming device. The Kinect has gone on to be used in a variety of research applications and other real-world scientific uses. Microsoft gave some details in regards to the Software Development Kit (SDK):
“Developers who have existing non-commercial deployments using our beta 2 SDK may continue using beta 2 and the Kinect for Xbox 360 hardware.
To accommodate this, we are extending the time of the beta 2 license from June 16, 2013 for three more years, to June 16, 2016.
However, we expect that as Kinect for Windows hardware becomes readily available, developers will shift their development efforts to Kinect for Windows hardware in conjunction with the latest SDK and runtime.”
During Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer’s speech at CES, he also announced that 18 million Kinects have shipped for the XBox 360.
Analysis: This has its pros and cons just like with anything else. The pros: Kinect can be used without having to use 3rd party drivers; it has a voice recognition feature that will be used in Mass Effect 3 and will hopefully appear on the PC as well; and this could be used with Windows Media Center for gesture-based control of your programs without having to use a remote. The cons: Office space is limited for gaming, so I doubt many will be able to use many of the gestures; and the device might not appeal as greatly to PC gamers, many of whom are attached to their keyboard and mouse. Because of these two details, I doubt it will be profitable.
I’m seriously torn if I want to jump on this bandwagon when it finally comes around. The cost isn’t my major concern as it’s coming in at $250. My main concern is that I won’t utilize it that much before it goes into my drawer of other specialized peripherals that have died. I know that they have a Near Mode, which might prevent it from becoming a paperweight, but it’s only as good as the developers who back it up and how the implement it. It’ll be interesting to see how this all plays out, but for now, I’ll wait to see what happens this time.