Developers can now build apps that use Microsoft's motion-sensing technology Kinect for computers running Windows 7.
Microsoft released a beta test version of the software development kit, also called an SDK, for developers on Thursday.
You can download it for free at http://research.microsoft.com/kinectsdk.
"It?s just wonderful to unleash the power of Kinect for the PC," said Anoop Gupta, distinguished scientist for Microsoft research in a Thursday morning webcast from Redmond.
Microsoft announced that Kinect technology would be coming to computers that run Windows 7 at the company's MIX conference in Las Vegas in April. Microsoft did several demos on stage, including navigating 3D maps of the universe from the Worldwide Telescope by moving their hands, a walking navigation service that could be using to direct people who have impaired sight and a recliner on wheels steered with motions.
To get more details on those demos, check out our Seattle Times story from the MIX conference.
Microsoft launched the Kinect motion sensor, which includes a camera and microphone, for the Xbox 360 video game console last year. The sensor has sold more than 10 million units and Microsoft says it is the fastest selling consumer electronics device in history. Hobbyists have already been repurposing the Kinect for Xbox with software hacks.
Microsoft has been touting natural user interface as the next step in computing. A natural user interface uses voice and motions to control a computer, which is now predominantly controlled by a mouse and keyboard. Tablets and smartphones pushed computing a step further by introducing touchscreens that could be controlled with finger pokes and swipes.
The company plans to release a commercial version of the development kit later, but did not give a date for when it would be available.
Microsoft will be broadcasting video about how developers can build software for Kinect on PCs Thursday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the company's broadcast channel.