updated 09:35 pm EDT, Mon May 21, 2012
Kinect gets new capabilities ahead of Windows rollout
Microsoft has updated the software development kit for its Kinect sensor, adding facial expression recognition and other capabilities to its 3D camera system. The update comes ahead of Microsoft's release of the Kinect for Windows SDK, which will bring the Kinect's feature set from the Xbox 360 to Windows desktops and notebooks. The update is largely in keeping with what Microsoft previously revealed as forthcoming features for Kinect.
The new SDK updates the Kinect to allow the sensor to track 10 joints in the upper body. Additionally, the Kinect can now identify users when sitting in chairs, couches, and other inanimate objects. The update also brings face-tracking capabilities to the Kinect, enabling the sensor to fit a 3D mesh to users' faces and to track facial features and head position in real time.
Microsoft has been working to add capabilities to the sensor since its release. A recent patent application showed that Microsoft may intend to use the device to improve audio playback in the near future. The company has been pushing the Kinect as the interface of the future for its Xbox 360 system for some time now, and recently began pushing a hardware bundle featuring the Kinect as a low-cost option to increase adoption.
The Kinect is not the only 3D, gesture-based technology coming to computers in the near future. Leap Motion has been showing off a dramatically smaller device that appears to duplicate much of the functionality of the Kinect, and perhaps with a greater degree of accuracy.