Microsoft has done something a bit overdue: it has consolidated Kinect for Xbox and Kinect for PC into one device, so developers don't need two separate devices when working on both Xbox and PC apps.
The Kinect's motion capture sensors are pretty powerful and comprehensive for such an inexpensive device, and it has been adopted for things other than jumping around the living room while playing videogames.
One example cited in a recent blog by the Kinect team is a chiropractor who developed an application that can find the exact location of a joint or range of motion issue. It proved considerably more accurate than standard palpation in helping patients with chronic pain.
While the Kinect for PC sensor has gained use in areas like medicine, it required a separate version of the device from the console version, which was a bit of a nuisance for both parties, especially Microsoft, since it had to make two different devices.
So the company is consolidating the hardware around one device "in an effort to simplify and create consistency for developers," the company wrote in a blog announcement.
The solution is rather simple: Microsoft will offer Kinect Adapter for Windows units to connect a Kinect for Xbox One sensor to a PC. It supports Windows 8.0 and 8.1 PCs – and presumably Windows 10 when it ships later this year – and tablets as well. Because both Kinect for Xbox One and Kinect for Windows v2 sensors are functionally identical, our Kinect for Windows SDK 2.0 works exactly the same with either.
By erasing the lines between Xbox and the PC, this essentially means only having to target one device, and with Windows 10, app portability between the console and PC should be erased as well. It could mean health care apps where doctors make a house call on Skype and the sensor reads the patient, providing them with the vitals they need to make a diagnosis.
It could mean retail apps where you get to try on clothes by standing in front of the Kinect, or you could use Kinect for online shopping to manipulate and rotate an item you're considering buying.
Kinect hasn't been a roaring success in that you see it everywhere and hear about it constantly, but stories continue to pop up about new uses for it. This is a good move forward, clearing up any potential confusion about which hardware to use.