The Kinect Sensor for Windows is now officially available.  The February 1st release date was announced during the Microsoft Keynote at CES 2012 in Las Vegas about three weeks ago.  As expected the hardware will retail for $249.99 from Amazon.com.  The increased price for this hardware, compared to the Kinect for Xbox 360, is because the Xbox 360 peripheral is subsidized when games are also purchased for the device.

As well as the hardware now being available the Kinect for Windows Software Development (SDK) Kit Version 1.0 is also available for download from the Microsoft Download Center.

According to the download page the SDK includes:

  • Drivers for using Kinect sensor devices on a computer running Windows 7 or Windows 8 developer preview (desktop apps only)
  • Application programming interfaces (APIs) and device interfaces, along with technical documentation
  • Source code samples

This will be the first time that enthusiasts and commercial companies will have official hardware and software to develop tools that take advantage of the Kinect Sensor’s audio, video and motion control abilities.  Previously most of the creations you have seen consisted of hacking the Kinect for Xbox 360 sensor and software to take advantage of its features and capabilities.

The Kinect Effect was highlighted last October in an official video from Microsoft which showed the device had already been taking to newer levels of use and that there was more to come.  I think we are about to see a tremendous wave of creativity with this release now being official.