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The Microsoft Research Connections blog shares stories of collaborations with computer scientists at academic and scientific institutions to advance technical innovations in computing, as well as related events, scholarships, and fellowships.

Natural User Interface Leaps Forward with Release of Kinect for Windows SDK Beta

Natural User Interface Leaps Forward with Release of Kinect for Windows SDK Beta

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Be part of the movement. Download the Kinect for Windows SDK beta.

As astute readers of this blog will recall, back in April we reported on the progress of the non-commercial Kinect for Windows Software Development Kit (SDK), offering tantalizing descriptions of its capabilities and inviting you to follow its progress on a dedicated website. Well, I’m pleased to announce that the wait is over: the Kinect for Windows SDK beta was released on June 16, 2011, enabling the next phase of bringing natural user interfaces (NUI) to the PC.

Designed to empower developers, academic researchers, and enthusiasts to explore new ideas and create rich applications, the Kinect for Windows SDK beta, which works with Windows 7, enables human motion tracking, voice recognition, and depth sensing on PCs. The SDK includes drivers, rich APIs for raw sensor streams and natural user interfaces, installation documents, and resource materials. It provides Kinect capabilities to developers who build applications with C++, C#, or Visual Basic by using Microsoft Visual Studio 2010. SDK features include:

  • Raw Sensor Streams: Access to raw data streams from the depth sensor, color camera sensor, and four-element microphone array allows developers to build upon the low-level streams that are generated by the Kinect sensor.
  • Skeletal Tracking: The capability to track the skeleton image of one or two people moving within the Kinect field of view makes it easy to create gesture-driven applications.
  • Advanced Audio Capabilities: Audio processing capabilities include sophisticated acoustic noise suppression and echo cancellation, beam formation to identify the current sound source, and integration with the Windows speech recognition API.
  • Sample Code and Documentation: The SDK contains more than 100 pages of technical documentation. In addition to built-in help files, the documentation includes detailed walkthroughs for most samples provided with the SDK.
  • Easy Installation: The SDK quickly installs in a standard way for Windows, requires no complex configuration, and the complete installer size is smaller than 100 MB. Developers can get up and running in just a few minutes with a standard standalone Kinect sensor unit (widely available at retail outlets).

Just prior to this general release, we hosted a select group of researchers and enthusiasts at a 24-hour coding marathon here on our Redmond, Washington, campus. These developers were encouraged to build applications in areas of interest to them, including everything from gaming and entertainment to healthcare, science, and education. Their projects are being broadcast on Channel 9 Live on June 16, and can be viewed on demand after the fact. Highlights can be found on Microsoft News Center.

 As Anoop Gupta, a distinguished scientist at Microsoft Research stated, “The Kinect for Windows SDK beta from Microsoft Research opens up a world of possibilities for developers to unleash the power of Kinect technology on PCs. We are just at the beginning of Microsoft’s long-term vision for how people will interact with technology more naturally and intuitively.”

All I can add is a question: What are you waiting for? Click on over to the SDK download site, and start building those NUI applications. The SDK is free for development of non-commercial applications, and the only boundaries are those set by your own imagination!

Tony Hey, Corporate Vice President, Microsoft Research Connections

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