Microsoft Releasing Kinect For Windows Hardware, Launching Accelerator Program

It's clear that Kinect is going to play a major part in Microsoft's future. They're setting it up to be a major component of the future of computer and home entertainment interaction, and gaming is only the beginning.

Now they're releasing a Kinect specifically for the PC to aid developers in their creation of software. The SDK of course works with the Xbox Kinect hardware, but the Windows hardware differs in a few small but important areas.
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.  “Near Mode” will enable a whole new class of “close up” applications, beyond the living room scenarios for Kinect for Xbox 360.
This is one of the most requested features from the many developers and companies participating in our Kinect for Windows pilot program and folks commenting on our forums, and we’re pleased to deliver this, and more, at launch.
Microsoft are also launching the Kinect Accelerator project, which will see them give 10 start-up companies using Kinect for either Xbox 360 or PC $20,000 after a competitive screening process. The 10 winning companies will also get an Xbox development kit, the Windows Kinect SDK, office space, all the resources of BizSpark, technical training and support, and mentorship from entrepreneurs, investors and Microsoft executives intensely focused on making their business a success.

Any Kinect-enabled application on Windows or Xbox that can be a commercial business is valid to apply, from education to healthcare, art installations to gaming, social to interactive play. The deadline is January 25th, 2012 and you can apply now by clicking here.

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