Kinect is simply a sensor. It is like eyes and ears, it can see and hear you. Kinect is a device that is known for its use with Xbox, and now has a new device to work more powerfully with PCs, K4W (Kinect for Windows). It will enable you to use and control your PC without a mouse. How cool is that!
An immediate question that pops in mind is, is the K4W the same as the Kinect used for Xbox? Well, no it is not the same. The new K4W is much stronger than Kinect for Xbox; we will talk about the features of K4W later on. You can use your Kinect for Xbox on your PC to a limited extent, but you can’t use your K4W on your Xbox. K4W connects to a PC by USB which enables it to be used in a wide range of devices that support USB, but Kinect for Xbox uses a connection type that can only be used on the Xbox (if you want to connect it to your PC, you should have a cable).
Now, let us dive into the features of K4W and see what K4W can actually do. As we said earlier, K4W can see and hear you, which means that you can command your PC using movements and speech, it can also detect how far you are standing (or sitting or whatever) from the device. In addition to that, if you connect K4W to your PC, it can be used as a powerful microphone and web camera. Also, there are applications that enable Kinect which you can download (NOT from the windows app store but from the direct developers’ websites). A new feature of K4W is that it can create a 3D image of you on the PC (this is called Kinect Fusion). Also, it is now much easier to control your PC with a Kinect by using the “Push”, “Grip”, “Cursor”, and “User viewer” capabilities. These capabilities make using Kinect a much more natural experience. AND, 4 hands can use the PC at the same time.
As a developer, features of a K4W is that you will get support and software updates. Speaking of software, new SDK updates are available for the new K4W. If you have been developing on windows 7, your applications will still work on Windows 8. Windows 8 applications will also work on Windows 7 to an extent, whereas, the new capabilities for windows 8 like the push, grip and cursor will not work on windows 7. So, Windows 7 application will work on Windows 8, but any Kinect applications will not work on Windows RT because K4W is an ARM-based device.
To start using K4W, order the device, install it and enjoy! The only thing to worry about before installing, is that you have to make sure that your PC runs Windows 7 or Windows 8, 32 bit (x86) or 64 bit (x64) processor, dual- core 2.66-GHz or faster processor, dedicated USB 2.0 bus, and 2 GB RAM.
To start developing for Kinect for Windows, go through these step by step tutorial. These tutorial do not use the new capabilities like the “grip” and “push” but they are a great point to start with.
1) Installing and using the Kinect sensor
2) Setting up your development environment
3) Camera Fundamentals
4) Working with Depth Data
5) Skeletal tracking fundamentals
6) Audio fundamentals
Developer Downloads (Download SDK from here)
Sensor Setup and Support
Kinect for Windows Quick start Series (Video tutorials and PowerPoint slides and code templates found here, specifically, attached to the first video)
Coding4Fun (extra videos)
Kinect for Windows Features
Developer how-to videos
Learning Resources and Documentation
Kinect for Windows Blog
Kinect for Windows SDK Forums