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).
The Kinect for Windows Team
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
You’re the hero, blasting your way through a hostile battlefield, dispatching villains right and left. You feel the power as you control your well-armed, sculpted character through the game. But there is always the nagging feeling: that avatar doesn’t really look like me. Wouldn’t it be great if you could create a fully animated 3D game character that was a recognizable version of yourself? Well, with the Kinect for Windows v2 sensor and Fuse from Mixamo, you can do just that—no prior knowledge of 3D modelling required. In almost no time, you’ll have a fully armed, animated version of you, ready to insert into selected games and game engines.
The magic begins with the Kinect for Windows v2 sensor. You simply pose in front of the Kinect for Windows v2 sensor while its 1080p high-resolution camera captures six images of you: four of your body in static poses, and two of your face. With its enhanced depth sensing—up to three times greater than the original Kinect for Windows sensor—and its improved facial and body tracking, the v2 sensor captures your body in incredible, 3D detail. It tracks 25 joint positions and, with a mesh of 2,000 points, a wealth of facial detail.
You begin creating your personal 3D avatar by posing in front of the Kinect for Windows v2 sensor.
Once you have captured your image with the Kinect sensor, you simply upload it to Body Snap or a similar scanning software program, which will render it as a 3D model. This model is ready for download into an .obj file format designed for Fuse import requirements, which takes place in Body Hub, which, like Body Snap, is a product of Body Labs.
In Body Hub, your 3D model is prepared for download as an .obj file.
Next, you upload the 3D model to Fuse, where you can take advantage of more 280 “blendshapes” that you can push and pull, sculpting your 3D avatar as much as you want. You can also change your hairstyle and your coloring, as well as choose from a large assortment of clothing.
With your model imported to Fuse, you can customize its shape, hair style, and coloring.
The customization process also gives you an extensive array of wardrobe choices.
Once you’ve customized your newly scanned image, you export it to Mixamo, where it gets automatically rigged and animated. The process is so simple that it seems almost unreal. Rigging prepares your static 3D model for animation by inserting a 3D skeleton and binding it to the skin of your avatar. Normally, you would need to be a highly skilled technical director to accomplish this, but with Maximo, any gamer can rig a character. Now you’re ready to save and export your animated self into Garry’s Mod and Team Fortress 2—which are just the first two games that have community-made workflows for Fuse-created characters. Support for exporting directly from Fuse to other popular "modding" games is on the Fuse development roadmap.
On the left is a customized 3D avatar created from the scans of the gamer on the right.
The beauty of this system is not only its simplicity, but also its speed and relatively low cost. Within just minutes, you can create a fully rigged and animated 3D character. The Kinect for Windows v2 sensor costs just US$199 in the Microsoft Store, and Body Snap from Body Labs is free to download. Fuse can be purchased through Steam for $99, and includes two free auto-rigs per week.
In Mixamo, your avatar really comes to life, as auto-rigging makes it fully animated.
The speed and low cost of this system make it appealing to professional game developers and designers, too, especially since workflows exist for Unity, UDK, Unreal Engine, Source Engine, and Source Filmmaker.
Rigged and ready for action, your personal 3D avatar can be added to games and game engines, as in this shot from a game being developed with Unity.
The folks at Mixamo are committed to making character creation as easy and accessible as possible. “Mixamo’s mission is to make 3D content creation accessible for everyone, and this is another step in that direction,” says Stefano Corazza, CEO of Mixamo. “Kinect for Windows v2 and Fuse make it easier than ever for gamers and game developers to put their likeness into a game. In minutes, the 3D version of you can be running around in a 3D scene.”
And here's the payoff—the gamer plays the 3D avatar of himself. Now that’s putting yourself in the action!
The expertise and equipment required for 3D modeling have long thwarted players and developers who want to add more characters to games, but Kinect for Windows v2 plus Fuse is poised to break down this barrier. Soon, you can thrill to an animated version of you fulfilling your gaming desires, be it holding off alien hordes or building a virtual community. It’s just one more example of how Kinect for Windows technology and partnerships are enhancing entertainment and creativity.
Kinect for Windows Team
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.
We are happy to announce we are releasing the Kinect for Windows samples under an open source license. You can find everything on CodePlex: http://kinectforwindows.codeplex.com/. We have posted a total of 22 unique samples in C#, C++, and Visual Basic.
We’re doing this for a few reasons:
Browse K4W sample code right in your browser...
Oh Yeah, This Blog is New
You probably noticed: this is our first blog post. We are committed to this blog becoming a useful resource to the Kinect for Windows development community. Our existing product blog (at http://blogs.msdn.com/b/kinectforwindows/) will continue to focus on announcements, product news, and highlighting great, real-world uses of Kinect for Windows. The developer blog (where you are now) will focus on going behind the scenes with the K4W engineering team and will go deeper on the technology and APIs, share tips & tricks, and provide other tidbits of information relevant to those building K4W applications.
We have ideas in mind for future posts but would love to hear from you to understand what topics would be most useful to you. Please use the comments below, hit up the team on Twitter @KinectWindows, or get in touch with me directly (contact info below).
@benlower | firstname.lastname@example.org | mobile: +1 (206) 659-NINJA (6465)
Today at Microsoft BUILD 2014, Microsoft made it official: the Kinect for Windows v2 sensor and SDK are coming this summer (northern hemisphere). With it, developers will be able to start creating Windows Store apps with Kinect for the first time. The ability to build such apps has been a frequent request from the developer community. We are delighted that it’s now on the immediate horizon—with the ability for developers to start developing this summer and to commercially deploy their solutions and make their apps available to Windows Store customers later this summer.
The ability to create Windows Store apps with Kinect for Windows not only fulfills a dream of our developer community, it also marks an important step forward in Microsoft’s vision of providing a unified development platform across Windows devices, from phones to tablets to laptops and beyond. Moreover, access to the Windows Store opens a whole new marketplace for business and consumer experiences created with Kinect for Windows.
The Kinect for Windows v2 has been re-engineered with major enhancements in color fidelity, video definition, field of view, depth perception, and skeletal tracking. In other words, the v2 sensor offers greater overall precision, improved responsiveness, and intuitive capabilities that will accelerate your development of voice and gesture experiences.
Specifically, the Kinect for Windows v2 includes 1080p HD video, which allows for crisp, high-quality augmented scenarios; a wider field of view, which means that users can stand closer to the sensor—making it possible to use the sensor in smaller rooms; improved skeletal tracking, which opens up even better scenarios for health and fitness apps and educational solutions; and new active infrared detection, which provides better facial tracking and gesture detection, even in low-light situations.
The Kinect for Windows v2 SDK brings the sensor’s new capabilities to life:
Developers who have been part of the Kinect for Windows v2 Developer Preview program praise the new sensor’s capabilities, which take natural, human computing to the next level. We are in awe and humbled by what they’ve already been able to create.
Technologists from a few participating companies are on hand at BUILD, showing off the apps they have created by using the Kinect for Windows v2. See what two of them, Freak’n Genius and Reflexion Health, have already been able to achieve, and learn more about these companies.
The v2 sensor and SDK dramatically enhance the world of gesture and voice control that were pioneered in the original Kinect for Windows, opening up new ways for developers to create applications that transform how businesses and consumers interact with computers. If you’re using the original Kinect for Windows to develop natural voice- and gesture-based solutions, you know how intuitive and powerful this interaction paradigm can be. And if you haven’t yet explored the possibilities of building natural applications, what are you waiting for? Join us as we continue to make technology easier to use and more intuitive for everyone.
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
Automotive companies Audi, Ford, and Nissan are adopting Kinect for Windows as a the newest way to put a potential driver into a vehicle. Most car buyers want to get "hands on" with a car before they are ready to buy, so automobile manufacturers have invested in tools such as online car configurators and 360-degree image viewers that make it easier for customers to visualize the vehicle they want.
Now, Kinect's unique combination of camera, body tracking capability, and audio input can put the car buyer into the driver's seat in more immersive ways than have been previously possible—even before the vehicle is available on the retail lot!
The most recent example of this automotive trend is the 2013 Nissan Pathfinder application powered by Kinect for Windows, which was originally developed to demonstrate the new Pathfinder at auto shows before there was a physical car available.
Nissan quickly recognized the value of this application for building buzz at local dealerships, piloting it in 16 dealerships in 13 states nationwide.
"The Pathfinder application using Kinect for Windows is a game changer in terms of the way we can engage with consumers," said John Brancheau, vice president of marketing at Nissan North America. "We're taking our marketing to the next level, creating experiences that enhance the act of discovery and generate excitement about new models before they're even available. It's a powerful pre-sales tool that has the potential to revolutionize the dealer experience."
Digital marketing agency Critical Mass teamed with interactive experience developer IdentityMine to design and build the Kinect-enabled Pathfinder application for Nissan. "We're pioneering experiences like this one for two reasons: the ability to respond to natural human gestures and voice input creates a rich experience that has broad consumer appeal," notes Critical Mass President Chris Gokiert. "Additionally, the commercial relevance of an application like this can fulfill a critical role in fueling leads and actually helping to drive sales on site."
Each dealer has a kiosk that includes a Kinect for Windows sensor, a monitor, and a computer that’s running the Pathfinder application built with the Kinect for Windows SDK. Since the Nissan Pathfinder application first debuted at the Chicago Auto Show in February 2012, developers made several enhancements, including a new pop-up tutorial, and interface improvements, such as larger interaction icons and instructional text along the bottom of the screen so a customer with no Kinect experience could jump right in. "In the original design for the auto show, the application was controlled by a trained spokesperson. That meant aspects like discoverability and ease-of-use for first-time users were things we didn’t need to design for," noted IdentityMine Research Director Evan Lang.
Now, shoppers who approach the Kinect-based showroom are guided through an array of natural movements—such as extending their hands, stepping forward and back, and leaning from side to side—to activate hotspots on the Pathfinder model, allowing them to inspect the car inside and out.
The project was not, however, without a few challenges. The detailed Computer-Aided Design (CAD) model data provided by Nissan, while ideal for commercials and other post-rendered uses, did not lend itself easily to a real-time engine. "A lot of rework was necessary that involved 'retopolgizing' the mesh," reported IdentityMine’s 3D Design Lead Howard Schargel. "We used the original as a template and traced over to get a cleaner, more manageable polygon count. We were able to remove much more than half of the original polygons, allowing for more fluid interactions and animations while still retaining the fidelity of the client's original model."
And then, the development team pushed further. "The application uses a dedicated texture to provide a dynamic, scalable level of detail to the mesh by adding or removing polygons, depending on how close it is to the camera,” explained Schargel. “It may sound like mumbo jumbo—but when you see it, you won't believe it."
You can see the Nissan Pathfinder app in action at one of the 16 participating dealerships or by watching our video case study.
Last June, we announced that we would be hosting a limited, exclusive developer preview program for Kinect for Windows v2 prior to its general availability in the summer (northern hemisphere) of 2014. And a few weeks ago, we began shipping Kinect for Windows v2 Developer Preview kits to thousands of participants all over the world. It’s been exciting to hear from so many developers as they take their maiden voyage with Microsoft’s new generation NUI technology. We’ve seen early unboxing videos that were recorded all over the world, from London to Tokyo. We’ve heard about some promising early experiments that are taking advantage of the higher resolution data and the ability to see six people. People have told us about early success with the new sensor’s ability to track the tips of hands and thumbs. And some developers have even described how easy it’s been to port their v1 apps to the new APIs.
Kinect for Windows v2 Developer Preview kit(Photo courtesy of Vladimir Kolesnikov [@vladkol], a developer preview program participant)
But we’ve also heard from many people who were not able to secure a place in the program and are eager to get their hands on the Kinect for Windows v2 sensor and SDK as soon as possible. For everyone who has been hoping and waiting, we’re pleased to announce that we are expanding the program so that more of you can participate!We are creating 500 additional developer preview kits for people who have great ideas they want to bring to life with the Kinect for Windows sensor and SDK. Like before, the program is open to professional developers, students, researchers, artists, and other creative individuals.The program fee is US$399 (or local equivalent) and offers the following benefits:
Applications must be completed and submitted by January 31, 2014, at 9:00 A.M. (Pacific Time), but don’t wait until then to apply! We will award positions in the program on a rolling basis to qualified applicants. Once all 500 kits have been awarded, the application process will be closed. Learn more and apply now
Back in May, we released the Kinect for Windows SDK/Runtime v1.5 in a modular manner, to make it easier to refresh parts of the Developer Toolkit (tools, components, and samples) without the need to update the SDK (driver, runtime, and basic compilation support).
Today, we have realized that vision with the Developer Toolkit update v1.5.1. This update boosts Kinect Studio performance and stability, improves face tracking, and introduces offline documentation support. If you have already installed the SDK, simply download the new v1.5.1 Developer Toolkit Update. If you are new to Kinect for Windows, you will want to download both Kinect for Windows SDK v1.5 and Developer Toolkit v1.5.1.
Rob RelyeaProgram Manager, Kinect for Windows