I am pleased to announce that today we have released version 1.5 of the Kinect for Windows runtime and SDK. Additionally, Kinect for Windows hardware is now available in Hong Kong, South Korea, Singapore, and Taiwan. Starting next month, Kinect for Windows hardware will be available in 15 additional countries: Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Denmark, Finland, India, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Arab Emirates. When this wave of expansion is complete, Kinect for Windows will be available in 31 countries around the world. Go to our Kinect for Windows website to find a reseller in your region.
We have added more capabilities to help developers build amazing applications, including:
We have continued to expand and improve our skeletal tracking capabilities in this release:
We have made performance and data quality enhancements, which improve the experience of all Kinect for Windows applications using the RGB camera or needing RGB and depth data to be mapped together (“green screen” applications are a common example):
New capabilities to enable avatar animation scenarios, which makes it easier for developers to build applications that control a 3D avatar, such as Kinect Sports.
Finally, as I mentioned in my Sneak Peek Blog post, we released four new languages for speech recognition – French, Spanish, Italian, and Japanese. In addition, we released new language packs which enable speech recognition for the way a language is spoken in different regions: English/Great Britain, English/Ireland, English/Australia, English/New Zealand, English/Canada, French/France, French/Canada, Italian/Italy, Japanese/Japan, Spanish/Spain, and Spanish/Mexico.
As we have worked with customers large and small over the past months, we’ve seen the value in having a fully integrated approach: the Kinect software and hardware are designed together; audio, video, and depth are all fully supported and integrated; our sensor, drivers, and software work together to provide world class echo cancellation; our approach to human tracking, which is designed in conjunction with the Kinect sensor, works across a broad range of people of all shapes, sizes, clothes, and hairstyles, etc. And because we design the hardware and software together, we are able to make changes that open up exciting new areas for innovation, like Near Mode.
Furthermore, because Kinect for Windows is from Microsoft, our support, distribution, and partner network are all at a global scale. For example, the Kinect for Windows hardware and software are tested together and supported as a unit in every country we are in (31 countries by June!), and we will continue to add countries over time. Microsoft’s developer tools are world class, and our SDK is built to fully integrate with Visual Studio. Especially important for our global business customers is Microsoft’s ability to connect them to partners and experts who can help them use Kinect for Windows to re-imagine their brands, their products, and their processes.
It is exciting for us to have built and shipped such a significantly enhanced version of the Kinect for Windows SDK less than 16 weeks after launch. But we are even more excited about our plans for the future – both in country expansion for the sensor, and in enhanced capabilities of our runtime and SDK. We believe the best is yet to come, and we can’t wait to see what developers will build with this!
Craig EislerGeneral Manager, Kinect for Windows
Last week, winners of GeekWire’s fourth annual Seattle 2.0 Startup Awards were announced. Seattle has a vibrant startup community, and this is a very popular event within that community. I attended the awards ceremony, and it was amazing to see how much energy and excitement was in the room – and the EMP (Experience Music Project) where the event was held was packed.
There were entrepreneurs of all types and levels of experience (I even ran into Ray Ozzie!), venture capitalists, CEOs, and so much IQ and passion in one place it was a rush – the same rush I feel every Monday when I spend time at the Kinect Accelerator in Microsoft’s Westlake office.
We were thrilled when Kinect for Windows was named “Innovation of the Year” – not because we won (which is great!), but because it was the popular vote of the startup community. This is the same community that is continuing to deliver so many amazingly different ideas and products that have Kinect for Windows at the center. In so many ways, Kinect for Windows is “Innovation of the Year” because of the innovators who are using it: Thank you.
Learn more about all of the winners of the Seattle 2.0 Startup Awards. And thanks to all of you who voted for Kinect for Windows!