While Kinect has technically been a thing for PC for some time already – even supported by Microsoft with the launch of a free SDK in June 2010 – the Redmond overlords announced at CES last night (9 January 2012) that they’ll be shipping out the official Kinect for Windows package on 1 February 2012, accompanied by a New! Improved! version of the device itself, optimised for “PC-centric scenarios”.
Most significantly, that means hardware that’s able to focus at shorter distances than the Xbox version’s minimum required five interstellar parsecs.
This 40-50cm “Near Mode” will “enable a whole new class of ‘close up’ applications, beyond the living room scenarios for Kinect for Xbox 360,” reads the official blurb over on the Microsoft blog.
“This is one of the most requested features from the many developers and companies participating in our Kinect for Windows pilot program and folks commenting on our forums, and we’re pleased to deliver this, and more, at launch.”
The “more” is apparently a shorter USB cable, and a much more expensive pricetag – Kinect for Windows is RRPed at US$250; US$100 more than the Xbox Kinect.
Microsoft claims that’s because the Xbox peripheral is “subsidised” by game sales, but maybe it’s because they think people will actually pay US$100 more for pretty much the same thing.