To commemorate the one-year anniversary of Kinect and the Kinect Effect, I sent an email to my team earlier this week. I’d like to quote for you what I said to them, “It all started with a revolutionary sensor and amazing software that turned voice and movement into magic. With that magical combination, last year the Interactive Entertainment Business at Microsoft showed the world how to re-imagine gaming. This year, we’re showing the world how to re-imagine entertainment. Next year, with Kinect for Windows, we will help the world re-imagine everything else.”
To mark the milestone, the Kinect for Windows team is celebrating with our own milestones: We’re starting up this blog, launching the official Kinect for Windows web site, and releasing beta 2 of the Kinect for Windows SDK. (And, yes, we will celebrate the anniversary more this evening– it’s been an amazing journey these past months!)
I know many of you are eagerly awaiting the Kinect for Windows commercial program coming in early 2012. My team is working hard to deliver a great product and I’m confident that it will be worth the wait.
We’ve already seen strong enthusiasm for Kinect among developers who have done amazing things with it in countless different ways, from education to healthcare, gaming to art installations, manufacturing to retail.
Currently, we have more than 200 companies taking part in our pilot program. They are telling us how Kinect for Windows will help them transform their products, their processes, their brands, and their businesses. Putting the power of Kinect + Windows into the hands of business leaders and technical visionaries will give them the tools they need to develop novel solutions for everything from training employees to visualizing data, from configuring a car to managing an assembly line.
The updated software development kit that we released today includes some great new features that help us get closer to realizing this vision, including faster skeletal tracking, better accuracy rate when it comes to skeletal tracking and joint recognition, and the ability to plug and unplug your Kinect without losing work/productivity.
Every day, I come to work and learn about another amazing application that a partner or other developer is doing with Kinect for Windows. I look forward to next year, when the potential goes exponential and everyone’s ideas, including yours, are part of that equation.
If you haven’t done so already, download the SDK and re-imagine the world with us.
--Craig Eisler General Manager, Kinect for Windows
Today at Engadget Expand, I announced that Kinect for Windows SDK 1.7 will be made available this coming Monday, March 18. This is our most significant update to the SDK since we released the first version a little over a year ago, and I can’t wait to see what businesses and developers do with the new features and enhancements.
On Monday, developers will be able to download the SDK, developer toolkit, and the new and improved Human Interface Guidelines (HIG) from our website. In the meantime, here’s a sneak peek:
Kinect Interactions give businesses and developers the tools to create intuitive, smooth, and polished applications that are ergonomic and intelligently based on the way people naturally move and gesture. The interactions include push-to-press buttons, grip-to-pan capabilities, and support for smart ways to accommodate multiple users and two-person interactions. These new tools are based on thousands of hours of research, development, and testing with a broad and diverse group of people. We wanted to save businesses and developers hours of development time while making it easier for them to create gesture-based experiences that are highly consistent from application to application and utterly simple for end users. With Kinect Interactions, businesses can more quickly develop customized, differentiated solutions that address important business needs and attract, engage, and delight their customers.
Kinect for Windows Interactions transform how people interact with computers insettings ranging from retail to education, training, and physical therapy.
Kinect Fusion is one of the most affordable tools available today for creating accurate 3-D renderings of people and objects. Kinect Fusion fuses together multiple snapshots from the Kinect for Windows sensor to create accurate, full, 3-D models. Developers can move a Kinect for Windows sensor around a person, object, or environment and “paint” a 3-D image of the person or thing in real time. These 3-D images can then be used to enhance countless real-world scenarios, including augmented reality, 3-D printing, interior and industrial design, and body scanning for things such as improved clothes shopping experiences and better-fitting orthotics. Kinect Fusion is something many of our partners have been asking for and we’re thrilled to be delivering it now.
Kinect Fusion enables developers to create accurate 3-D renderings in real time.
The updated SDK also includes an enhanced developer toolkit and additional developer resources, including:
Seeing is believingWe demonstrated Kinect Interactions and Kinect Fusion live, onstage at Engadget Expand. You can watch the webcast of those demos now—and then come back to download the latest SDK on March 18. It’s fully compatible with all previous commercial releases, so we encourage everyone to upgrade to the new version. There’s no reason not to!
As always, we are constantly evolving the technology and want to know what you think. And we love hearing about the solutions you’re developing with Kinect for Windows, so please join us at Facebook and Twitter.
The Kinect for Windows sensor, together with the SDK, can help you create engaging applications that take natural voice and gesture computing to the next level.
Bob Heddle, DirectorKinect for Windows
Yes, it’s the moment many of you have been waiting for: Kinect for Windows SDK 1.7 is available for download! We’ve included a few photos of the key features: Kinect Interactions and Kinect Fusion. Or if you’re a developer, you can download the SDK and get started immediately.
A woman demonstrates the new Kinect Interactions, which are included in the Kinect for Windows SDK 1.7: counter-clockwise from top left: “push” to select, “grab” to scroll and pan, and wave to identify primary user. Two-handed zoom (top right) is not included but can be built with this new SDK.
Kinect Interactions are designed to let users intuitively do things like press their hand forward a few inches to push a button, or close their hands to “grip and pan” as seen here. Now you can untether yourself and move around a conference room naturally.
In this physical therapy scenario, Kinect for Windows enables a therapist to interact with the computer without leaving her patient’s side.
Customers can virtually try on merchandise, such as sunglasses, by using business solutions created with the new Kinect for Windows SDK 1.7. If colors, models, or sizes are not in stock, you can still see what they look like on you.
Kinect Fusion, a tool also included in Kinect for Windows SDK 1.7, can create highly accurate 3-D renderings of people and objects in real time.
Kinect Fusion makes it possible to create highly accurate 3-D renderings at a fraction of the price it would cost with traditional high-end 3-D scanners.
Kinect Fusion opens up a variety of new scenarios for businesses and developers, including augmented reality, 3-D printing, interior and industrial design, and body scanning for things like custom fitting and improved clothes shopping.
Kinect Fusion opens up a variety of new scenarios for businesses and developers, including augmented reality, 3-D printing, interior and industrial design, and body scanning for things like custom fitting and improved clothes shopping .
The Kinect for Windows Team
The following blog post was guest authored by Anup Chathoth, co-founder and CEO of Ubi Interactive.
Ubi Interactive is a Seattle startup that was one of 11 companies from around the world selected to take part in a three-month Microsoft Kinect Accelerator program in the spring of 2012. Since then, the company has developed the software with more than 100 users and is now accepting orders for the software.
Patrick Wirtz, an innovation manager for The Walsh Group, spends most of his time implementing technology that will enhance Walsh’s ability to work with clients. It’s a vital role at The Walsh Group, a general building construction organization founded in 1898 that has invested more than US$450 Million in capital equipment and regularly employs more than 5,000 engineers and skilled tradespeople.
"It’s a powerful piece of technology," says Patrick Wirtz, shown here using Ubi in The Walsh Group offices. By setting up interactive 3-D blueprints on the walls, Walsh gives clients the ability to explore, virtually, a future building or facility.
In the construction industry, building information modeling (BIM) is a critical component of presentations to clients. BIM allows construction companies like The Walsh Group to represent the functional characteristics of a facility digitally. While this is mostly effective, Wirtz wanted something that would really “wow” his clients. He wanted a way for them to not only see the drawings, but to bring the buildings to life by allowing clients to explore the blueprints themselves.
Wirtz found the solution he had been seeking when he stumbled upon an article about Ubi. At Ubi Interactive, we provide the technology to transform any surface into an interactive touch screen. All the user needs is a computer running our software, a projector, and the Kinect for Windows sensor. Immediately, Wirtz knew Ubi was something he wanted to implement at Walsh: “I contacted the guys at Ubi and told them I am very interested in purchasing the product.” Wirtz was excited about the software and flew out to Seattle for a demo.
After interacting with the software, Wirtz was convinced that this technology could help The Walsh Group. “Ubi is futuristic-like technology,” he noted—but a technology that he and his colleagues are able to use today. Wirtz immediately saw the potential: Walsh’s building information models could now be interactive displays. Instead of merely presenting drawings to clients, Walsh can now set up an interactive 3-D blueprint on the wall. Clients can walk up to the blueprint and discover what the building will look like by touching and interacting with the display. In use at Walsh headquarters since June 2012, Ubi Interactive brings client engagement to an entirely new level.
Similarly, Evan Collins, a recent graduate of California Polytechnic State University, used the Ubi software as part of an architecture show he organized. The exhibition showcased 20 interactive displays that allowed the fifth-year architecture students to present their thesis projects in a way that was captivating to audience members. Collins said the interactive displays, “…allowed audience members to choose what content they interacted with instead of listening to a static slideshow presentation.”
Twenty Ubi Interactive displays at California Polytechnic University
Wirtz’s and Collins’ cases are just two ways that people are currently using Ubi. Because the solution is so affordable, people from a wide range of industries have found useful applications for the Ubi software. Wirtz said, “I didn’t want to spend $10,000. I already had a projector and a computer. All I needed to purchase was the software and a $250 Kinect for Windows sensor. With this small investment, I can now turn any surface into a touch screen. It’s a powerful piece of technology.”
In addition to small- and mid-sized companies, several Fortune 500 enterprises like Microsoft and Intel are also using the software in their conference rooms. And the use of the technology goes beyond conference rooms:
At Ubi Interactive, it is our goal to make the world a more interactive place. We want human collaboration and information to be just one finger touch away, no matter where you are. By making it possible to turn any surface into a touch screen, we eliminate the need for screen hardware and thereby reduce the cost and extend the possibilities of enabling interactive displays in places where they were not previously feasible—such as on walls in public spaces. Our technology has implications of revolutionizing the way people live their lives on a global level. After private beta evaluation with more than 50 organizations, the Ubi software is now available for ordering at ubi-interactive.com.
Anup ChathothCo-Founder and CEO, Ubi Interactive
I’m very pleased to announce that the latest Kinect for Windows runtime and software development kit (SDK) have been released today. I am also thrilled to announce that the Kinect for Windows sensor is now available in China.
Developers and business leaders around the world are just beginning to realize what’s possible when the natural user interface capabilities of Kinect are made available for commercial use in Windows environments. I look forward to seeing the innovative things Chinese companies do with this voice and gesture technology, as well as the business and societal problems they are able to solve with it.
The updated SDK gives developers more powerful sensor data tools and better ease of use, while offering businesses the ability to deploy in more places. The updated SDK includes:
Extended sensor data access
Access to all this data means new experiences are possible: Whole new scenarios open up, such as monitoring manufacturing processes with extended-range depth data. Building solutions that work in low-light settings becomes a reality with IR stream exposure, such as in theaters and light-controlled museums. And developers can tailor applications to work in different environments with the numerous color camera settings, which enhance an application’s ability to work perfectly for end users.
One of the new samples released demonstrates a best-in-class UI based on the Kinect for Windows Human Interface Guidelines called the Basic Interactions – WPF sample.
Improved developer tools
We are committed to continuing to make it easier and easier for developers to create amazing applications. That’s why we continue to invest in tools and resources like these. We want to do the heavy lifting behind the scenes so the technologists using our platform can focus on making their specific solutions great. For instance, people have been using our Human Interface Guidelines (HIG) to design more natural, intuitive interactions since we released last May. Now, the Basic Interactions sample brings to life the best practices that we described in the HIG and can be easily repurposed.
Greater support for operating systems
Windows 8 compatibility and VM support now mean Kinect for Windows can be in more places, on more devices. We want our business customers to be able to build and deploy their solutions where they want, using the latest tools, operating systems, and programming languages available today.
This updated version of the SDK is fully compatible with previous commercial versions, so we recommend that all developers upgrade their applications to get access to the latest improvements and to ensure that Windows 8 deployments have a fully tested and supported experience.
As I mentioned in my previous blog post, over the next few months we will be making Kinect for Windows sensors available in seven more markets: Chile, Colombia, the Czech Republic, Greece, Hungary, Poland, and Puerto Rico. Stay tuned; we’ll bring you more updates on interesting applications and deployments in these and other markets as we learn about them in coming months.
Craig EislerGeneral Manager, Kinect for Windows
Today at Microsoft BUILD 2013, we made two important announcements for our Kinect for Windows developer community.
First, starting today, developers can apply for a place in our upcoming developer kit program. This program will give participants exclusive early access to everything they need to start building applications for the recently-announced new generation Kinect for Windows sensor, including a pre-release version of the new sensor hardware and software development kit (SDK) in November, and a replacement unit of the final sensor hardware and firmware when it is publicly available next year. The cost for the program will be US$399 (or local equivalent). Applications must be received by July 31 and successful applicants will be notified and charged in August. Interested developers are strongly encouraged to apply early, as spots are very limited and demand is already great for the new sensor. Review complete program details and apply for the program.
The upcoming Kinect for Windows SDK 1.8 will include more realistic color capture with Kinect Fusion.
Additionally, in September we will again refresh the Kinect for Windows SDK with several exciting updates including:
The feature enhancements will enable even better Kinect for Windows-based applications for businesses and end users, and the convenience of HTML5 will make it easier for developers to build leading-edge touch-free experiences.
This will be the fourth significant update to the Kinect for Windows SDK since we launched 17 months ago. We are committed to continuing to improve the existing Kinect for Windows platform as we prepare to release the new generation Kinect for Windows sensor and SDK. If you aren’t already using Kinect for Windows to develop touch-free solutions, now is a great time to start. Join us as we continue to make technology easier to use and more intuitive for everyone.
Bob HeddleDirector, Kinect for Windows
The writer Mark Twain once said “We are alike, on the inside.” On the outside, however, few people are the same. While two people might be the same height and wear the same size, the way their clothing fits their bodies can vary dramatically. As a result, up to 40% of clothing purchased both online and in person is returned because of poor fit.
Finding the perfect fit so clothing conforms to a person’s unique body shape is at the heart of the Bodymetrics Pod. Developed by Bodymetrics, a London-based pioneer in 3D body-mapping, the Bodymetrics Pod was introduced to American shoppers for the first time today during Women’s Denim Days at Bloomingdale’s in Century City, Los Angeles. This is the first time Kinect for Windows has been used commercially in the United States for body mapping in a retail clothing environment.
Bloomingdale’s, a leader in retail innovation, has one of the largest offerings in premium denim from fashion-forward brands like J Brand, 7 for all mankind, Citizens and Humanity, AG, and Paige. The Bodymetrics services allows customers to get their body mapped and find jeans that fit and flatter their unique shape from the hundreds of different jeans styles that Bloomingdale’s stocks.
During Bloomingdale’s Denim Days, March 15 – 18, customers will be able to get their body mapped, and also become a Bodymetrics member. This free service enables customers to access an online account and order jeans based on their body shape.
“We’re very excited about bringing Bodymetrics to US shoppers,” explains Suran Goonatilake, CEO of Bodymetrics. “Once we 3D map a customer’s body, we classify their shape into three categories - emerald, sapphire and ruby. A Bodymetrics Stylist will then find jeans that exactly match the body shape of the customer from jean styles that Bloomingdale’s stocks.”
The process starts with a customer creating a Bodymetrics account. They are then directed to the Bodymetrics Pod, a secure, private space, where their body is scanned by 8 Kinect for Windows sensors arranged in a circle. Bodymetrics’ proprietary software produces a 3D map of the customer’s body, and then calculates the shape of the person, taking hundreds of measurements and contours into account. The body-mapping process takes less than 5 seconds.
Helping women shop for best-fitting jeans in department stores is just the start of what Bodymetrics envisions for their body-mapping technologies. The company is working on a solution that can be used at home. Individuals will be able to scan their body, and then go online to select, virtually try on, and purchase clothing that match their body shape.
Goonatilake explains, “Body-mapping is in its infancy. We’re just starting to explore what’s possible in retail stores and at home. Stores are increasingly looking to provide experiences that entice shoppers into their stores, and then allow a seamless journey from stores to online. And we all want shopping experiences that are personalized to us – our size, shape and style.”
Even though people may not be identical on the outside, we desire clothing that fits well and complements our body shapes. The Kinect for Windows-enabled Bodymetrics Pod offers a retail-ready solution that makes the perfect fit beautifully simple.
Kinect for Windows Team
Revealed in November as a future addition to the Kinect for Windows SDK, Kinect Fusion made a big impression at the annual TechFest event hosted by Microsoft Research this week in Redmond, Washington.
Kinect Fusion pulls depth data that is generated by the Kinect for Windows sensor and, from the sequence of frames, constructs a highly detailed 3-D map of objects or environments. The tool averages readings over hundreds or even thousands of frames to create a rich level of detail.
Kinect Fusion, shown during TechFest 2013, enables high-quality scanning and reconstruction of 3-D models using just a handheld Kinect for Windows sensor and the Kinect for Windows SDK.
"The amazing thing about this solution is how you can take an off-the-shelf Kinect for Windows sensor and create 3-D models rapidly," said Shahram Izadi, senior researcher at Microsoft Research Cambridge. "Normally when you think of Kinect, you think of a static sensor in a living room. But with Kinect Fusion, we allow the user to hold the camera, explore their space, and rapidly scan the world around them."
When scanning smaller objects, you also have the option to simply move the object instead of the sensor.
The Cambridge researchers and Kinect for Windows team collaborated closely on Kinect Fusion to construct a tool that can enable businesses and developers to devise new types of applications.
"This has been a wonderful example of collaboration between Microsoft Research and our product group," said Kinect for Windows Senior Program Manager Chris White. "We have worked shoulder-to-shoulder over the last year to bring this technology to our customers. The deep engagement that we have maintained with the original research team has allowed us to incorporate cutting edge research, even beyond what was shown in the original Kinect Fusion paper."
"This kind of collaboration is one of the unique strengths of Microsoft, where we can bring together world-class researchers and world-class engineers to deliver real innovation," White added. "Kinect Fusion opens up a wide range of development possibilities—everything from gaming and augmented reality to industrial design. We're really excited to be able to include it in a future release of the Kinect for Windows SDK."
Kinect for Windows team
I am pleased to announce that the finalists for our Kinect Accelerator have arrived in ever-sunny Seattle and today are launching into a three-month program to build new products and business using Kinect. I can’t wait to see what they come up with – using Kinect, these teams have the ability to reimagine the way products are used, and perhaps even revolutionize entire industries along the way.
Kinect Accelerator is powered by TechStars, in close collaboration with the Microsoft BizSpark program; my team and I have been working closely with the BizSpark team and others in the Interactive Entertainment Business to help develop and bring this program to life. The response to the Kinect Accelerator has been phenomenal and we expect to see remarkable innovation coming out of the program.
We were hoping to receive 100 to 150 applications, with a goal of selecting the best ten. But the worldwide entrepreneurial community completely surprised us by submitting almost five hundred applications with concepts spanning nearly 20 different industries, including healthcare, education, retail, entertainment, and more.
There were so many clever and innovative ideas and so many great teams it was super challenging to narrow things down – we spent many, many hours in a rigorous and highly energetic review process. We finally landed on 11 finalists from five countries, chosen based on their experience, qualifications, and the potential benefit that could result from their Kinect Accelerator. The finalists are:
Each team will be mentored by entrepreneurs and venture capitalists as well as leaders from Kinect for Windows, Xbox, Microsoft Studios, Microsoft Research and other Microsoft organizations. The teams will spend the first several weeks ideating and refining their business concepts with input and advice from their mentors, followed by several weeks of design and development. They will present their results at an event at the end of June.
We were so amazed by the quality, caliber, and uniqueness of the applications and teams that we decided to reward the top 100 applicants that didn’t make it into the program with a complimentary Kinect for Windows sensor. I believe we are going to see great things from many of the folks that applied to the program and we wish them all the best.
We will share more information about the Kinect Accelerator teams and their applications on this blog in coming months. And for more information on the Kinect Accelerator program in general, go to KinectAccelerator.com.
Craig EislerGeneral Manager, Kinect for Windows
In addition to being a great day for Xbox One, today is also a great day for Kinect for Windows. We have started delivering Kinect for Windows v2 Developer Preview kits to program participants. The Developer Preview includes a pre-release Kinect for Windows v2 sensor, access to the new generation Kinect for Windows software development kit (SDK), as well as ongoing updates and access to private program forums. Participants will also receive a Kinect for Windows v2 sensor when they become available next summer (northern hemisphere).
Microsoft is committed to making the Kinect for Windows sensor and SDK available early to qualifying developers and designers so they can prepare to have their new-generation applications ready in time for general availability next summer. We continue to see a groundswell for Kinect for Windows. We received thousands of applications for this program and selected participants based on the applicants’ expertise, passion, and the raw creativity of their ideas. We are impressed by the caliber of the applications we received and look forward to seeing the innovative NUI experiences our Developer Preview customers will create.
The new Kinect for Windows v2 sensor will feature the core capabilities of the new Kinect for Xbox One sensor. With the first version of Kinect for Xbox 360, developers and businesses saw the potential to apply the technology beyond gaming—in many different computing environments. Microsoft believes that the opportunities for revolutionizing computing experiences will be even greater with this new sensor. The benefits will raise the bar and accelerate the development of NUI applications across multiple industries, from retail and manufacturing to healthcare, education, communications, and more:
Real VisionKinect Real Vision technology dramatically expands its field of view for greater line of sight. An all-new active IR camera enables it to see in the dark. And by using advanced three-dimensional geometry, it can even tell if you’re standing off balance.
Real MotionKinect Real Motion technology tracks even the slightest gestures. So a simple squeeze of your hand results in precise control over an application, whether you’re standing up or sitting down.
Real VoiceKinect Real Voice technology focuses on the sounds that matter. Thanks to an all-new multi-microphone array, the advanced noise isolation capability lets the sensor know who to listen to, even in a crowded space.
2014 will be exciting, to say the least. We will keep you updated as the Developer Preview program evolves and we get closer to the Kinect for Windows v2 worldwide launch next summer. Additionally, follow the progress of the early adopter community by keeping an eye on them (#k4wdev) and by following us (@kinectwindows).