These are exciting times for Robotics. It is clear that the convergence of technologies and secular trends will make Robotics relevant to our day to day lives. The availability of Kinect and the work that the Robotics community has been doing the last few months is an example of the energy and the potential that exists in this space. You may have already seen in the news a couple of weeks ago that Microsoft released our Kinect for Windows SDK Beta (Kinect SDK) —creating  opportunities in exciting ways by making advanced technologies, such as skeleton tracking, available to everyone.

Today, I’m pleased to announce that we are releasing Kinect Services for RDS, available as a free download from our website. Kinect Services for RDS is built on top of the Kinect for Windows SDK. We have wrapped in the core Kinect SDK capabilities so you can use them with the CCR/DSS programming model. However, this is only the beginning. Keep your eyes peeled for updates in the fall. We know that there are many practical issues for applying the Kinect technologies to robotics capabilities that we will be addressing in upcoming RDS releases. 

A few years ago, we recognized that the dawn of robotics in the consumer market was coming, and asked ourselves how we could drive the technologies that will make robotics relevant to the consumer market. There is very interesting and exciting work that is taking place in academia, research, community, and among many start-ups. We didn’t want to replicate these efforts, so we decided to focus on leveraging Microsoft’s vast portfolio of technologies, and the brainpower of Microsoft Research to develop capabilities, scenarios, and experiences that are necessary to push Robotics over the last “hump” to become part of our everyday lives.

As you can imagine, this has been a challenging task given the constraints and expectations of consumers. Consumers expect that their products will always work, that the experience will be seamless, and that there is sufficient value to justify a new product category in their homes. At the same time, unlike research robots, the constraints of a consumer device given the price point are limited in terms of sensors and other capabilities (e.g. manipulators).

Democratizing robotics technologies to enable the consumer robotics market to flourish is our passion and number one priority. At the same time, this new strategy has forced us to be less visible with our Robotics Developer Studio work. During the last few years, we have continued to have an active user community and I thank you for your patience and your support. I would like to reinforce that all of the technologies that we include in the RDS releases are the underpinning of our new focus in consumer robotics.

We look forward to working with the developer community to create a common platform – using Kinect – to co-create consumer robotics projects and scenarios.

--Stathis Papaefstathiou, General Manager, Microsoft Robotics