June 27, 2013, 6:00 AM —
I'm one of the vocal segment of video game consumers who is not happy about Microsoft bundling Kinect 2 in with every Xbox One console. I'd just as soon not have (and not have to pay for) a Kinect hooked up to my game console. But that doesn't mean I'm a Kinect hater. Quite the opposite; I find Kinect projects created away from the console fascinating.
Of course the Kinect that comes with the Xbox One is an all new, more powerful version, and once again Microsoft is also releasing a "Kinect for Windows" version of the hardware. This new Kinect offers all kinds of improvements over the old one, such as tracking much finer details like finger tips and even wrinkles in clothes. It can also track 6 people at once, and better filter out background noise for more reliable voice command response. Imagine what the Kinect hackers will do with such a device!
The good news is that we won't have to imagine for too long. Microsoft has already started taking applications for Kinect 2 SDK pre-orders. You have to apply by July 31, 2013 and Microsoft won't accept everyone, but if you're among the chosen, $399 will get you access to the SDK and a pre-release Kinect 2 in November, and a final version when it ships sometime in 2014.
This means that I expect to see some of the fascinating things Kinect 2 can accomplish not too long after the Xbox One ships (also in November).
But here's the bad news. You won't be able to re-purpose the Kinect 2 that comes with the Xbox One. According to Ars Technica the Xbox One Kinect will have a proprietary connector. If you want to fiddle with a Kinect 2 on your PC, you'll have to buy the "Kinect for Windows" version of the hardware (or wire up an adapter yourself, which I'm sure some enterprising hacker will no in short order).
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