Microsoft’s original intention for the Kinect was to bring controller-free gaming and entertainment to the Xbox 360 platform, but with the Kinect offering so much in such a small (and affordable) package, the world has utilized this hardware for much more than “child’s play.” As people around the globe started to use the device for other purposes than just gaming, the term “The Kinect Effect” started popping up around the Microsoft campus to describe where these creations came from.
Originally people had to create their own interface to the Kinect device, but it wasn’t long before Microsoft announced and then released their very own non-commercial SDK (software development kit) for the Kinect. Not long after, Microsoft “saw even more exciting and creative applications in the areas of healthcare, rehab, education and so much more,” says Frank Shaw, corporate vice president of corporate communications at Microsoft.
“Kinect Effect” stories began pouring in with personal accounts and YouTube videos from around the world showing how Kinect was helping transform and improve the way people work, create, and perform daily activities. We saw Kinect being used by therapists and physicians as part of a rehabilitation program for stroke victims, as a skill-building technique for children with autism, and as an application for hospitals in Spain enabling surgeons to scroll through medical images in the operating room with gestures so they could avoid the need to rescrub. Incredible stuff.
Microsoft created a video to demonstrate some of these possibilities, which is pretty amazing:
In just two months the Kinect sold over 8 million units, which set the Guinness World Record for the fastest-selling consumer electronics device in history — dethroning the iPad.
While the games available at launch were not all that exciting, slowly developers have been adopting the Kinect into their games, whether it be for full body control (such as dancing games) or doing things such as modifying a gun used within the game. Microsoft has also been working on integrating the Kinect into the Xbox 360 itself, with voice control and other gestures to navigate the consoles interface.
Announcing a commercial Kinect SDK
The first SDK Microsoft released to the public was only allowed for non-commercial use, so there was no way for companies to use the SDK to harness the device and then sell their software to go along with the Kinect. But that’s going to change, according to Shaw.
“To further fuel innovation and imagination, we will offer a Kinect for Windows commercial program early next year,” says Shaw. Shaw says Microsoft recognizes the interest coming from commercial companies to use the Kinect and it’s endless possibilities in the world.
Currently they are launching a pilot program for this SDK, and there have been more than 200 submitted applications from “top companies” in more than 20 countries around the world spanning over 25 industries.
Shaw did not mention any sort of release schedule for this commercial SDK, however.