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Kinect for Windows SDK to include skeleton tracking

Hobbyists also get access to directional microphone when released later this spring

Microsoft has released official details for the Kinect for Windows SDK beta, which will allow users access to the system's automatic skeleton tracking and use of the directional microphone.

The SDK (software development kit) is due for release "later this spring" and represents a complete turnaround from Microsoft's early attempts to block hobbyists from using Kinect on the PC. The company quickly began to appreciate the positive press from the various inventive uses of the technology though, and officially confirmed the release of the SDK in February.

The Microsoft Research website now describes a number of intended features, many of which are not possible with homemade software hacks. This includes full access to the system's "skeletal tracking capabilities for determining the body positions of one or two persons moving within the Kinect field of view".

Use of the four-element microphone array will also be made easier, including "sound source localisation for beamforming, which enables the determination of a sound's spatial location".

The SDK will also include detailed documentation for the software APIs (application programming interface) and sample code to demonstrate the hardware's various functions.

Microsoft Research also recently issued a paper detailing potential improvements in the accuracy and speed of Kinect's sensor routines, but no mention is made of this in the SDK description.

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David Jenkins