Happy Birthday Kinect, Happy Birthday to you. Now you're one year old, Microsoft plans to commercialize your SDK too.
Yes it really is just a year since Microsoft introduced the Kinect depth and vision sensor for the Xbox 360. It seems too short a time simply because of all of the surprising and impressive uses it has been put to. It has almost reached a point were there is a collective exhaustion - "oh no not another amazing Kinect application!" - and even a slight backlash - "can't we do anything without using a Kinect?!"
Microsoft is celebrating the Kinect's first year by deciding that it is time it was all grown up. A blog post first celebrates the "Kinect Effect":
Within the first 60 days, Kinect sold more than 8 million sensors, setting the Guinness Book World Record as the fastest-selling consumer electronics device.
...with the launch of a non-commercial software development kit, we saw even more exciting and creative applications in the areas of healthcare, rehab, education and so much more. As we watched these stories unfold, the term “The Kinect Effect” emerged in hallway conversations at Microsoft as a way to describe the amazing and creative ways Kinect was being used.
Of course this forgets the initial problems that we had with Microsoft not issuing any drivers and getting annoyed when the device was hacked and open source drivers became available.
A non-commercial SDK followed and this is still in beta. The problem is that, even though an official SDK was released, it stated that you couldn't use the results for anything even slightly commercial even if they didn't make any money. For example you couldn't develop some exciting Kinect app and then place it in a shop window for the world to see - this would be commercial.
Now Microsoft is gearing up to make a commercial SDK available to enable the Kinect to move from the gee whiz world of amazing toys to something that might make money.
To further fuel innovation and imagination, we will offer a Kinect for Windows commercial software developer kit early next year. We recognize the intense commercial interest in harnessing the capabilities of Kinect, and are working with a wide range of companies and developers to create a great set of tools and APIs. In fact, our commercial pilot program has already received more than 200 applications from top companies in more than 20 countries spanning 25 unique industries, eager to explore the possibilities of Kinect beyond Xbox 360!
What Microsoft hasn't said is what the terms of the commercial licence might be. Presumably Microsoft will take a cut from any profits you might make. It also begs the question of why the non-commercial SDK is still in beta - after all the pace of change isn't that great with one minor update - and why the commercial SKD is still at least a few months away? What can they be thinking of putting in it?
No matter where Microsoft's commercial interests may lead, nothing can undermine the fact that the Kinect has changed the face of computing in one short year.
Getting started with Microsoft Kinect SDK
All About Kinect
Kinect goes self aware - a warning we think it's funny and something every Kinect programmer should view before proceeding to create something they regret!
Avatar Kinect - a holodeck replacement
Kinect augmented reality x-ray (video)
3D Gesture Input
How Kinect tracks people