Microsoft Announces Release of Kinect SDK–Hackers, Academics Rejoice

Microsoft’s revolutionary motion-detecting Kinect controller has proven irresistibly alluring to hackers already. Since the Kinect for Xbox 360 hit markets, tweakers and independent developers have been endeavoring to crack its secrets, and have made some impressive progress so far. Given that, the most recent news from Microsoft regarding the Kinect is sure to delight the Kinect hacker community: Microsoft will be releasing a free version of the Kinect SDK for academic and non-commercial use this spring. According to an announcement on the Microsoft Research Blog:

Kinect for Xbox 360 and the potential seen within its core technology have captured the imaginations of the academic research and enthusiast communities. To encourage and support that creativity, on Feb. 21, Craig Mundie, Microsoft’s chief research and strategy officer, and Don Mattrick, president of Microsoft’s Interactive Entertainment Business, announced that the company plans to release a non-commercial Kinect for Windows software development kit (SDK) from Microsoft Research this spring.

“Microsoft’s investments in natural user interfaces are vital to our long-term vision of creating computers that are intuitive to use and able to do far more for us,” said Mundie. “The fruits of these research investments are manifesting across many of our products, Kinect for Xbox 360 among them.”

Microsoft has plans to release a commercial version of the Kinect SDK but hasn’t said a word about when it’ll be available.

For some, this move seems uncharacteristic for Microsoft. As a company that has often been maligned for its proprietary approach to software development (though not nearly as protective as Apple…), many were surprised to see Microsoft taking the initiative to reach out to the already robust community of Kinect hackers. But in reality, this move is really a no-brainer. Making the unofficial uses of the Kinect official will only help the Kinect by harnessing the enthusiastic and innovative hacking community. Besides, Microsoft has always been about the developers. And that’s totally groovy.

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