At CES 2012, Microsoft finally announced that it was bringing the Kinect to Windows. The Xbox 360 version of the Kinect has reportedly shipped over 18 million units to date. That’s not surprising. The silent-but-massive casual player fanbase is absolutely in love with the device.
What makes the creation of a Windows-centric device interesting is how much attention Microsoft is paying to the ever-growing Kinect modding community. These dedicated fans have been hard at work, tweaking the existing Kinect hardware to function far beyond its official capabilities. Modders have found ways to use it to play non-supported titles, such as Skyrim. Fashion designers have used it as part of their shows. Microsoft even has a campaign that shows the Kinect helping stroke and brain injury patients in rehabilitation centers. Basically, modders have made the Xbox 360’s Kinect a far more functional device.
From speaking with the reps at the Microsoft booth, it seems like gamers are not the primary audience for this product. Instead, Kinect for Windows is being aimed at developers who will try to create applications in the retail and healthcare industries. It sounds like the first step in Microsoft fully embracing the “Kinect Effect” they coined in this ad:
Details are still limited, but right now we know that the Kinect for Windows will be $250, which is surprisingly pricey, considering that it’s Xbox counterpart can be found at retail for under $100. It is unclear whether this new Kinect will be backwards-compatible with the Xbox 360 model.
All we’ve ever wanted from the Kinect was that “Minority Report” experience. By offering a PC-native model, this cuts out at one of the major hurdles that was holding modders back. We’ll have more news as the story develops.