Today, Microsoft announced a new $49 adapter kit that will let Windows users connect an Xbox One Kinect to their PCs. The firm also announced a new version of the Kinect SDK that lets developers create and sell apps in the Windows Store for the first time.
Confused? You should be. Microsoft previously announced a version of the Xbox One Kinect for Windows, called Kinect for Windows v2. This standalone product costs $199.99 and will not work with the Xbox One, as it is purely USB-based, whereas the Xbox One version of Kinect has a proprietary adapter.
Microsoft also previously announced that it would sell a version of Xbox One that does not include a Kinect sensor. This lower-cost Xbox One version—which sells for $400, or $100 less than the version with a Kinect sensor—can be upgrade with a $150 Xbox One Kinect sensor to complete the package. You may notice that the Xbox One Kinect is thus $50 less expensive than the Windows version.
Why Microsoft feels it needs to bridge the gap between the $150 Xbox One Kinect and the $200 Kinect for Windows v2 is unclear, but now they will, via a $50 Kinect Adapter for Windows which, in Microsoft words, allows both Kinect v2 sensors—i.e. the Kinect for Windows v2 and Kinect for Xbox One—to "perform identically."
Put another way, this adapter allows you to use the Kinect for Xbox One with Windows 8+ through a USB 3.0 port on your PC. The adapter is available in almost 40 countries staring today.
I know. I don't get the point either.
More important, perhaps, Kinect for Windows has moved from the scientific experiment stage to become something real world developers can use to make real world apps for real users. With the release of the Kinect SDK 2.0, developers can finally deploy Kinect apps in the Windows Store for the first time.
"This was a frequent request from the community and we are delighted to enable you to bring more personal computing experiences that feature gesture control, body tracking, and object recognition to Windows customers around the world," Microsoft's Alex Kipman notes. "Access to the Windows Store opens a whole new marketplace for business and consumer experiences."
A few Kinect apps for Windows are already available, including a series of Nayi Disha interactive apps for early childhood education, YAKiT (which animates 2D or 3D characters in real time), and 3D Builder, which enables anyone to scan a person or object, turn it into a 3D model, and create a 3D print of that model.