At the 2012 CES, Microsoft announced the availability of Kinect for Windows. This announcement is explained in more detail in the official Kinect for Windows Blog. According to the blog, the Kinect for Windows hardware and software will be available starting February 1st, 2012 on a limited market. The included countries are, United States, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Spain, and the United Kingdom. Also, for those who are wondering, the Kinect for Windows looks like that for the Xbox 360.
According to an earlier post in the Kinect for Windows Blog, Kinect for Windows builds upon the Kinect for Xbox 360. Like the Kinect for Xbox 360, the device will take human motion and voice control as the input. Kinect for the Xbox 360 allowed people to use body motion (hand swipes, jumps, etc) to play games. As such, the Kinect for Windows will allow users to use their body motion to interact with Windows Applications. Kinect for Windows will work with Windows 7 applications and Windows 8 desktop applications. Metro style apps will not work with Kinect as of yet. I do expect, however, that future iterations of the Kinect hardware and software will work with metro style apps.
The implications here are big. Microsoft is showing that they are investing in the Kinect for the future. That is, unlike, say, the Wii, Microsoft is expressing their beliefs that the Kinect is more than playing motion based games. Kinect for Windows marks the beginning of motion based computing on a large scale, other than gaming. Here’s Microsoft concept video of where the Kinect or devices like it might be used in the future.