Microsoft’s motion-control interface the Kinect has been wildly popular and has been a big hit with hacker communities using it to control all kinds of unexpected apps outside the XBox gaming system, but according to a new report today from Windows watch-dog blog Winrumors, Microsoft is preparing an official Software Developement Kit (SDK) that will let 3rd parties build any Windows software to include Kinect control support.
“Microsoft is set to unveil driver support and an SDK in the coming months and will allow third-party developers to create titles that utilize the Kinect sensor when plugged into a PC,” writes blogger Tom Warren. “According to sources familiar with the plans, Microsoft will distribute the drivers under the ‘beta’ tag.” This is a development we’ve been hoping to see for some time, since well before the Kinect was launched. It seemed pretty crazy to think the Kinect wasn’t going to open up officially someday.
In its first month of availability, the Kinect sold twice as fast as the iPad when that red-hot product came out of the gate. Hackers immediately set upon it, accessing its software and enabling it to control things like World of Warcraft with your whole body.
Two weeks ago today, one of the companies that built and licensed key technology to Microsoft in the creation of the Kinect announced that it had partnered with Asus to bring Kinect-type functionality to all PCs as soon as next Spring.
In November we asked our readers what you’d do with a hacked Kinect. Unofficial code was available and conversation began less than a week after Kinect launched.
“Microsoft is missing a significant market opportunity by not being open to third-party enhancement of the Kinect hardware,” Dr. Joel West, professor of Innovation & Entrepreneurship at San José State University, argued in an article on SeekingAlpha yesterday. “Although the volume will not be as big as for a hit game … third-parties will identify markets and solutions that Microsoft never anticipated.” (
Now this, a reputable specialist blog reporting that Microsoft itself is getting on board and opening up the Kinect. That would certainly be the rational thing to do. If Microsoft turned its ship around this quickly, and if it can execute an effective developer strategy, then history will likely look back at the abscence of an SDK at launch as an obstacle smartly overcome.
Dowload Squad’s Sebastian Anthony argues that “The release of an official SDK doesn’t have immediate repercussions, but it does strongly hint at a gesture-controlled future for Windows 8.”
What does this look like in the future? The most bullish estimate we’ve seen comes from Forrester analyst James McQuivey, one of three analysts we quoted in our pre-launch post titled Could The Kinect Control Your Internet of Things?
This is an era in which we will revolutionize the digital home and everything that goes along with it: TV, internet, interactivity, apps, communication. It will affect just about everything you do in your home…
“Kinect is to multitouch user interfaces what the mouse was to DOS. It is a transformative change in the user experience, the interposition of a new and dramatically natural way to interact — not just with TV, not just with computers — but with every machine that we will conceive of in the future.
That vision seems all the more viable today than it did even yesterday.