Microsoft has officially released a non-commercial beta version of a long-promised
PC software development kit for its Kinect depth-sensing camera, for use in C++, C# and Visual Basic projects.
The SDK, available for download
starting today, provides academics and hobbyists access to raw sensor streams from Kinect's RGB and depth-sensing cameras, as well as its directional microphones.
The software will also provide automatic skeleton tracking for up to two people and audio processing features such as echo cancellation and source recognition. It comes packaged with over 100 pages of documentation and a number of demos.
"We're going to extend the [Kinect's] capabilities from entertainment and gaming to what we can do in telepresence and robotics and manufacturing and health care and education and automotive," Microsoft Research's Anoop Gupta said in a live web stream announcing the new SDK.
"All the parts are there to make computing more natural and intuitive to us," he continued. "The computation and the technology disappears and comptuers become helpers to us rather than tools we exclusively control."
Hackers have been using homebrew Kinect drivers
since just after the hardware's launch to develop everything from art projects to autonomous robotic helicopter guidance systems. Hardware maker PrimeSense released a set of open PC drivers
for the hardware last December.
Last week, Microsoft released Kinect Fun Labs
, an Xbox Live download providing a trio of tech demos showing off the Kinect's capabilities.
A commercial release for the PC SDK is planned for release "at a later date." Microsoft has also promised eventual XNA support
for the Kinect.