So Microsoft suggested it in an exceedingly casual, nonspecific manner, so shall it be. Xbox One’s infinitely more sensitive (it cries during movies and everything) Kinect is headed to PC as well, and it’ll come with a new SDK in tow. One caveat, though: Microsoft really isn’t expecting you to use it for gaming. Case in point: “Just as the new Kinect sensor will bring opportunities for revolutionizing gaming and entertainment, the new Kinect for Windows sensor will revolutionize computing experiences.” This one, then, will be targeted toward businesses and touch-free apps. Honestly, though, that’s not a huge change from Kinect’s first go-’round in our icy cool land of cybertronic future monoliths. What I’m worried about is the “next-gen” edition’s ability to be keenly aware of, well, everything. If the console version’s a useless heap of Orwellian scrap when not plugged into an Xbox, what’s to stop the PC one from pitching a fit unless it’s hooked up to a Windows 8 machine?
I’ve mailed Microsoft about the possibility, but they’ve yet to reply. In the meantime, it’s worth noting that – despite all the associated baggage, both confirmed and speculated – Kinect One/2.0/a-skiddly-diddly-doo offers some pretty nice goodies for all the trouble. Thanks to the power of photons and HD hypercolor sightomancy, it’s able to “recognize precise motions and details, such as slight wrist rotation, body position, and even the wrinkles in your clothes.” It’s also been reconfigured to function in spaces smaller than the average ballroom or indoor jousting arena, which is basically a godsend.
Improved skeletal tracking’s another biggie, and that allows the new Kinect to do things like differentiate between six people at once. Magic Microsoft ball, what should we use this feature for? Multi-person retail “experiences,” you say? Well, it’s not like cameras aren’t in every public space already anyway. The next generation of advergaming is right around the corner! Lastly, active infrared allows Kinect to see in just about any sort of lighting (or lack thereof), making it infinitely less finicky.
The new Kinect is coming to PC sometime next year. Hopefully hackers will see these new features as an expanded canvas for their madness and go wild. But if not? Well, at least you’ll be able to give the best Power Point presentation ever.