Today, we began shipping thousands of Kinect for Windows v2 sensors to developers worldwide. And more sensors will leave the warehouse in coming weeks, as we work to fill orders as quickly as possible.

Additionally, Microsoft publicly released a preview version of the Kinect for Windows SDK 2.0 this morning—meaning that developers everywhere can now take advantage of Kinect’s latest enhancements and improved capabilities. The SDK is free of cost and there are no fees for runtime licenses of commercial applications developed with the SDK.

The new sensor can track as many as six complete skeletons and 25 joints per person.
The new sensor can track as many as six complete skeletons and 25 joints per person.

We will be releasing a final version of the SDK 2.0 in a few months, but with so many of you eagerly awaiting access, we wanted to make the SDK available as early as possible. For those of you who were unable to take part in our developer preview program, now you can roll up your sleeves and start developing. And for anyone else out there who has been waiting—well, the wait is over!

The new sensor’s key features include:

  • Improved skeletal tracking: The enhanced fidelity of the depth camera, combined with improvements in the software, have led to a number skeletal tracking developments. In addition to now tracking as many as six complete skeletons (compared to two with the original sensor), and tracking 25 joints per person (as compared to 20 with the original sensor), the tracked positions are more anatomically correct and stable—and the range of tracking is broader. This enables and simplifies many scenarios, including more stable avateering, more accurate body position evaluation, crisper interactions, and more bystander involvement in interactive scenarios.
  • Higher depth fidelity: With higher depth fidelity and a significantly improved noise floor, the v2 sensor gives you better 3D visualization, increased ability to see smaller objects and all objects more clearly, and more stable skeletal tracking.
  • 1080p HD video: The color camera captures full, beautiful 1080p video that can be displayed in the same resolution as the viewing screen, allowing for a broad range of powerful scenarios. In addition to improving video communications and video analytics applications, this provides a great input on which to build high-quality, augmented reality scenarios, digital signage, and more.
  • New active infrared capabilities: In addition to allowing the Kinect for Windows v2 sensor to see in the dark, the new infrared (IR) capabilities produce a lighting-independent view, which makes machine learning or computer-vision–based tasks much easier—because you don’t have to account for or model lighting-based variation. And, you can now use IR and color at the same time. We look forward to the many new and innovative uses that the community will develop to use this fundamentally new capability.
  • Wider/expanded field of view: The expanded field of view enables a larger area of a scene to be captured by the camera. As a result, users can be closer to the camera and still in view, and the camera is effective over a larger total area.

With the ability to track new joints for hand tips and thumbs—as well as improved understanding of the soft connective tissue and body positioning—you get more anatomically correct positions for crisp interactions.
With the ability to track new joints for hand tips and thumbs—as well as improved understanding of the soft connective tissue and body positioning—you get more anatomically correct positions for crisp interactions.

In addition to the new sensor’s key features, the Kinect for Windows SDK 2.0 includes:

  • Improved skeletal, hand, and joint orientation: With the ability to track as many as six people and 25 skeletal joints per person—including new joints for hand tips, thumbs, and shoulder center—as well as improved understanding of the soft connective tissue and body positioning—you get more anatomically correct positions for crisp interactions and more accurate avateering. These improved capabilities result in more lifelike avatars and open up new and better scenarios in fitness, wellness, education and training, entertainment, gaming, movies, communications, and more.
  • Support for new development environments: New Unity support provides faster, cost-efficient, and high quality support for cross-platform development, enabling developers to build their apps for the Windows Store using tools they already know.
  • Powerful tooling: Thanks to Kinect Studio’s enhanced recording and playback features, developers can develop on the go, without the need to have a Kinect sensor with them at all times. And Gesture Builder lets developers build their own custom gestures that the system recognizes and uses to write code by using machine learning. These features increase productivity and keep costs down.
  • Advanced face tracking: With significantly increased resolution, applications can capture a face with a 2,000-point mesh that looks more true to life. This means that avatars will look more lifelike.
  • Simultaneous multi-app support: New multi-app support enables more than one application to access a single sensor simultaneously. This means you could have a business intelligence app running at the same time that a training or retail or education experience were running, allowing you to get analytics in real time.

When the final version of the SDK is available, people will be able to start submitting their apps to the Windows Store, and companies will be able to make their v2 solutions available commercially. We look forward to seeing what everyone does with the new NUI.

The new SDK 2.0 public preview includes Unity support for faster, cost-efficient, and high quality support for cross-platform development, enabling developers to build their apps for the Windows Store using tools they already know.
The new SDK 2.0 public preview includes Unity support for faster, cost-efficient, and high quality support for cross-platform development, enabling developers to build their apps for the Windows Store using tools they already know.

We’ve already shown you what several partners are working on, including Reflexion Health and Freak n’ Genius. Most recently, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures have developed an interactive experience to help promote their upcoming movie, Planes 2: Fire & Rescue. One of seven experience kiosks will debut in London at the end of the week in time for school holidays. Disney is confident it will receive an enthusiastic reception from users of all ages, creating an engaging experience associated with the Disney brand and, of course, sparking interest in the movie which releases nationwide from August 8. Read more.

We will showcase more partner solutions here in coming months, so stay tuned. In the meantime, order your new sensor, download the SDK 2.0 public preview, and start developing your NUI apps. And please join our Microsoft Virtual Academy to learn from our experts and jump start your development.

The Kinect for Windows Team

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