Microsoft has just made it even easier for Kinect hackers to play around with the motion detection system, as the beta version of the Kinect Windows SDK has just been released
Microsoft has released the Kinect Windows Software Development Kit (SDK) as promised in February, allowing software developers to take full advantage of the the Kinect motion system without having to work directly with raw data.
The SDK was launched at an event in which Microsoft invited Kinect hackers, coders and enthusiasts to use the SDK and try and develop Kinect apps within 24 hours with good results. Developers came up with everything from virtual Pong, to gesture based quadrocopter controls, to virtual orchestra, and even an app that allowed interaction with a Windows Phone 7 device.
Kinect has been synonymous with hacking, but in a good way, with enthusiasts eager to unlock to potential of a $150 motion detection system that years ago would have cost thousands of dollars. Hackers first wrote drivers for the device, after finding that it connected to PCs via USB quite easily, and then the weird and wonderful hacks started to appear, from the obligatory lightsaber demos, to even breast trackers (not a typo). Microsoft initially reacted cautiously, but then embraced the hacking community for taking an interest in Kinect, even at the same time as rival company Sony was fighting hackers in court (to be fair, for a totally different, and more damaging, type of hacking).
But programmers had to deal with a very low level of interaction with the Kinect hardware, converting raw data into something that's usable. But with the SDK, coding has just been made a lot easier with a high level API that allows programmer to tap into advanced features such as beamforming (pinpointing the source of sounds) to skeletal tracking. To show how easy it is to get started, Microsoft even released sample code for making your own light saber demo (of course) and a start-up guide that does not look complicated at all (not for C++, C# and Visual Basics programmers anyway).
The free, but still beta, version of the SDK is for non commercial use only. A commercial, non beta, version of the SDK will be released in the future.