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How the Microsoft Kinect SDK Works

Producing Apps for Kinect
In June 2011, Microsoft hosted a code camp at their Redmond campus to introduce the Kinect SDK to developers.
In June 2011, Microsoft hosted a code camp at their Redmond campus to introduce the Kinect SDK to developers.
Image courtesy of Microsoft

Kinect for Windows SDK has been available since June 2011. However, Microsoft was criticized for opening up development without allowing entrepreneurs to make money off their creations. Then, in October 2011, Microsoft announced its Kinect for Windows commercial license would be available in early 2012 [source: Torrone, Foley].

At announcement time, Microsoft had already received more than 200 applications from companies in 25 industries around the world. These companies had innovative ideas that went well beyond game play. For example, Spanish tech company Tedesys developed TedCas software that puts important data, including patient files and reference material related to procedures, at a surgeon's fingertips during surgery. Without having to stop to retrieve important information about the patient, a surgeon or nurse can gesture to their records interface, review information and return to their procedure seamlessly [sources: Shaw, Tedesys].

Today, Microsoft and other developer sites provide examples of how people have used the Kinect for Windows SDK. By starting with a very basic example, you can derive a structure for your own application. From there, you can reference source code from other apps doing similar things to your own app, or you can branch out into something completely new.

So where can you go with your Kinect for Windows creations? If you're giving it away for free, you can make your software available as a free online download. If you plan to make money, you can distribute it under the terms of the Kinect for Windows SDK commercial license. As of early 2012, the commercial license was available for the United States, Canada, Mexico, Japan, New Zealand, Australia, UK, Ireland, Germany, France, Italy and Spain.

When you release your Kinect application, you'll need to provide users with instructions for installing and interacting with the software. They'll also need to purchase their own Kinect for Windows sensor (hardware) and install the Kinect for Windows runtime (software) for their computers.

This article has introduced you to the Microsoft Kinect SDK, the essential component for developing software for Kinect for Windows. We scratched the surface so you can peer inside. Now, it's up to you to open the kit and get started. Check out the next page for some helpful links and lots more information.