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Since the launch of the dedicated Kinect for Windows site a few weeks ago the Kinect for Windows team have been busy with a awareness campaign for the coming year they have created a dedicated blog at http://blogs.msdn.com/b/kinectforwindows/ 

Twitter @KinectWindows http://twitter.com/#!/KinectWindows and Facebook group http://www.facebook.com/KinectForWindows

Some of the latest blogs state that a new version of the Kinect device is to launched which includes optimized certain hardware components and firmware adjustments which better enable PC-centric scenarios and offer greater flexibility and usage within teaching and research.

The blog states 

‘Coupled with the numerous upgrades and improvements our team is making to the Software Development Kit (SDK) and runtime, the new hardware delivers features and functionality that Windows developers and Microsoft customers have been asking for. Simple changes include shortening the USB cable to ensure reliability across a broad range of computers and the inclusion of a small dongle to improve coexistence with other USB peripherals. Of particular interest to developers will be the new firmware which enables the depth camera to see objects as close as 50 centimeters in front of the device without losing accuracy or precision, with graceful degradation down to 40 centimeters. “Near Mode” will enable a whole new class of “close up” applications, beyond the living room scenarios for Kinect for Xbox 360. This is one of the most requested features from the many developers and companies participating in our Kinect for Windows pilot program and folks commenting on our forums, and we’re pleased to deliver this, and more, at launch.’Craig Eisler General Manager, Kinect for Windows

Microsoft also has just launched a new initiative, the Kinect Accelerator incubation project run by Microsoft BizSpark. BizSpark helps software startups through access to Microsoft software development tools, connection to key industry players (including investors) and by providing marketing visibility.

The Kinect Accelerator will give 10 tech-oriented companies using Kinect (on either Windows or Xbox360) an investment of $20,000 each, plus a number of other great perks. Applications are being accepted now through January 25th, 2012.

I am pleased to say a number of UK Universities are members of the BizSpark Network Partners Programme helping foster and develop entrepreneurs within the UK. If your interested in learning more about Kinect in education or the BizSpark Network Partner process please get in touch.