Kinect for Windows: Can a video game toy become the future of PCs?

Microsoft's Kinect for Windows will add motion controls to laptops and desktops.

Kinect, a motion-sensing peripheral for the Microsoft Xbox 360, will now (officially) work on Windows.

Microsoft this week launched the Kinect for Windows commercial program, bringing the Xbox 360 motion-sensing peripheral’s hardware and software to the PC platform. The company hopes businesses around the globe will take advantage of the Kinect to improve internal operations, build new customer experiences, and potentially revolutionize their respective industries.

“It’s been just over a year since we launched Kinect for Xbox 360, and we’re only starting to scratch the surface of what’s possible with Kinect,” said Craig Eisler, general manager for Kinect for Windows. “By offering hardware and software that’s designed specifically for Windows applications, we hope to inspire visionaries around the world to create transformative breakthroughs with Kinect—taking its gesture and voice capabilities beyond the living room into other industries such as education, manufacturing, healthcare, and retail.”

Microsoft says 300 companies from 25 countries such as United Health Group, American Express, Mattel, Telefonica, and Toyota are already developing applications through the Kinect for Windows early adoption program. To encourage smaller businesses to use the hardware, Microsoft and startup seed funding program TechStars are running a Kinect Accelerator program, which offers entrepreneurs, engineers, and innovators the opportunity to develop applications with the Kinect as part of a 3-month intensive competition.

Microsoft claims the Kinect for Windows sensor is a fully-tested and supported Kinect experience. It offers features such as advanced speech and audio capabilities with the latest Microsoft Speech components; “near mode” which sees objects as close as 40 centimeters in front of the sensor; improved skeletal tracking that enables control over which user is being tracked by the sensor; and a commercial ready installer that makes it easy to install Kinect for Windows runtime and driver components for end-user deployments.

The Kinect for Windows commercial license and purchasable hardware will be available in 12 countries (Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Spain, United States and United Kingdom) at a suggested retail price of $249 USD.

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