Controlling our computers with a flick of the hand, 'Minority Report'-style, might not be as far-fetched as we once thought, as Microsoft is bringing Kinect to Windows.
At the company's last ever CES keynote, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer told journalists that the Xbox Kinect peripheral would be available for Windows computers from February 1, allowing users to control their PCs with voice and gesture controls.
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The Kinect began life as an accessory to rival the unprecedented success of the Nintendo Wii, but Microsoft soon began morphing the Kinect into a central entertainment hub for the Xbox, offering voice and gesture controls and the ability to easily search for multimedia content.
A software development kit (SDK) has been available since June, allowing developers to create Windows applications that can be controlled by the Kinect's cameras and microphone; when launched in February we expect to see a large number of applications available from day one, with many more created throughout the year.
Although Ballmer did not mention a price for the Windows Kinect, Amazon currently has the unit priced on its U.S. site at $249.99 which, strangely, is $100 more than the Xbox version, and it will presumably not come bundled with Kinect Sports, as the Xbox version does.
As reported by Joystiq.com back in November, Kinect for Windows will use a different camera so that it can accurately track users from as close as 50cm; this makes sense as computer users would typically be sat close to the screen, compared to Xbox gamers stood in their living room.
Ballmer claimed at CES that Microsoft has sold more than 18 million units since the device was launched in November 2010.