After months of being teased, hinted at, outright confirmed and eventually detailed, Microsoft has finally released PC development tools for its Kinect Xbox 360 peripheral. A sizable community of homebrew programmers has risen up since it was released last November, which has led to some truly incredible hacks (and associated YouTube videos). The overwhelming show of community support is likely what prompted Microsoft to escalate its plans for a non-commercial Kinect SDK release, as company boss Steve Ballmer made it sound earlier this year as if homebrew support would happen a bit further down the road.
The Kinect for Windows SDK is a free download for non-commercial software development, though to use it you’ll need to be running on Windows 7. Applications can be built using either the C++, C# or Visual Basic programming languages. As was reported earlier this year, SDK users will have access to the full range of Kinect features, from skeletal tracking for up to two individuals to directional mic controls and speech recognition.
To support the launch, Microsoft invited “a select group of developers” to the company’s Redmond, Wash. campus as part of a 24-hour coding marathon, called Code Camp. The developers all got to work with the new tools, building and testing out a range of possible uses for independently created Kinect applications. All told, Microsoft’s support for the indie development community has been nothing short of heroic, with everything from this SDK release to the Xbox Live Indie Games channel signalling the company’s willingness to embrace the possibilities offered by taking an open approach to content creation.