Microsoft (News - Alert) still believes in the Kinect as more than a game controller, as reports emerge saying that it's put several parts of the Kinect source code out under an open source license. This move allows developers a better opportunity to study the workings of the Kinect motion sensing controller, reuse code bits as needed, and give Microsoft a better idea of how to improve the Kinect's system.
Microsoft put out 22 Kinect-related samples of code in C#, C++, and Visual Basic under an Apache 2.0 open source license, allowing developers access to such parts of the Kinect code as face tracking, slideshow gestures, and even the skeletal viewer. What's more, Microsoft even launched a blog for the Kinect for Windows developers geared toward getting developers behind the idea of making more applications for the Kinect on the PC, bringing more motion sensing and voice controls to bear.
This actually isn't the first time Microsoft has thrown back the veil on its Kinect offering, releasing a full software development kit for Kinect for Windows back in 2011. That was in advance of the release of a version of Kinect that worked with the PC market, giving developers a way to better work with the Kinect on PCs. Several companies took up the banner, with companies from Telefonica (News - Alert) to Toyota and beyond stepping in with Kinect-driven apps for the PC.
Some are said to be concerned with the comparative scarcity of code offerings for the Kinect, suggesting that the bits Microsoft released are of too little impact to really generate new applications. Others, meanwhile, are impressed overall with what the Kinect has to offer, and believe that the code bits released will generate some significant new applications for the motion and voice control system.
Either way, though, it's clear that this was a smart idea. Any hardware advance by itself can only be, ultimately, roughly as good as what it does. It's one thing to have a peripheral that will solve most of a user's major computer-related problems and even fix said user breakfast the next morning, but if that peripheral doesn't work with any current PC, it's useless. Granted, the Kinect doesn't suffer from this problem as it readily plugs into a computer, but without the applications to work with it, the Kinect's value can only go so far. Getting developers on board and turning out applications to work with the Kinect makes the Kinect itself less a curiosity piece and more a powerful, indispensable piece of hardware on par with the monitor.
Microsoft is clearly at least moving in the right direction, and the more developers start making offerings for the Kinect, ultimately, the more valuable having a Kinect on a PC will be.
Edited by Brooke Neuman