Kinect for Windows released

Even though we’ve seen dozens of Kinect hacks over the years, there are a few problems with the Kinect hardware itself. The range of the Kinect sensor starts at three feet, a fact not conducive to 3D scanner builds. Also, it’s not possible to connect more than one Kinect to a single computer – something that would lead to builds we can barely imagine right now.

Fear not, because Microsoft just released the Kinect for Windows. Basically, it’s designed expressly for hacking. The Kinect for Windows can reliably ‘see’ objects 40 cm (16 in) away, and supports up to four Kinects connected to the same computer.

Microsoft set the price of Kinect for Windows at $250. This is a deal breaker for us – a new Kinect for XBox sells for around half that. If you’re able to convince Microsoft you’re a student, the price of the Kinect for Windows comes down to $150. That’s not too shabby if you compare the price to that of a new XBox Kinect.

We expect most of the builders out there have already picked up a Kinect or two from their local Craigslist or Gamestop. If you haven’t (and have the all-important educational discount), this might be the one to buy.

Comments

  1. HackJack says:

    So this one handles closer objects better? Is that a hardware change which warrants the increase in price or simply a software thing?

    • AE says:

      I believe this is a hardware change, and im sure the pricing of the original kinect is subsidized by the games, as is most gaming hardware these days

    • Bill says:

      I’ll bet GOOD money the increase in price is to offset the cost of the hardware usually subsidized by the games. That’s the whole reason (and game piracy) hardware designer put hack blocks in the design. I bet the explosion of kinect hacks has hurt Microsoft’s bottom line with all those sensors bough and no matching game income. I’m surprised they stayed so cool about it; I wouldn’t have blamed them for trying to crack down on kinect hackers liked they almost started to.

      But they didn’t, they embraced the 3rd party dev and released the sensor at cost. So basically, if you still buy the $150 version for hacking, you are contributing to the justification for increased hardware anti-hacking security and basically being a dick.

      Yeah, I hear your responses already. “It’s mine, I bought it, I can hack it if I want”. Fine, but Microsoft is moving in the right direction and meeting us halfway. Don’t be a dick about it and show you are willing to meet them there as well. I don’t expect them to take a loss for us just to appear hacker friendly. You wanna hack it, pay the extra $100 for the hardware.

      • The BOM for the Kinect is supposedly $56.

      • Bill says:

        “supposedly” which doesn’t cover orginal dev, continued dev, marketing, company overhead, licensing fees back the the original company that invented it, support staff, call centers, etc. The parts list is far from the only cost of a product.

        I find the only people commenting about the BOM cost like it means anything have zero experience working retail or other engineering project management.

        Good example of what real costs are: where I work I make around $40 / hour. It costs my project $120 / hour to employee me. The rest is the cost it takes to keep me employed, managers, operating overhead, healthcare costs, etc. It adds up.

      • Those costs were covered by xbox profits. PC profits are just cake. MS also needs the community to help innovate. If the community just uses the cheaper xbox version then MS is losing out on development effort.
        I expect this higher price is just testing the market and when it fails the Windows price will match the xbox price.

      • Bill says:

        “xbox profits” What xbox profits? When the console was first released, there were reports total cost was around $1200 per unit. I remember reading they only just broke even with the last 2 years, but don’t forget they have also been dropping the retail price since then and spent tons of dev on new slimmer version. It’s pretty well know that the video game business model is to sell consoles and accessories at a loss and make up for it in game sales and online subscriptions. That doesn’t work when people are buying hardware and not games.

        “PC profits” News in January is their PC sector has ‘sluggish demand for personal computers’ and is not making much money. Even so, why should their PC sector cover the costs of this sensor for hacker dev?

        “MS also needs the community to help innovate” No they don’t. They are making money hand over fist in game sales and online subscriptions (same report last month), which they well deserve for making a good product. Doesn’t mean I expect them to subsidize hardware for hackers with that profit. Would be nice but I don’t expect it to happen.

        I know some people have issues with the Windows version Licensing *cough* PT *cough* stating no commercial use, but playing devils advocate I see the need for language like that to make sure Sony doesn’t turn around and release ‘Kinect for Playstation’. I don’t see a clear legal way for Microsoft to say ‘the small business man can make money off our dev kit but you can’t Sony’. They can only choose who to go after for violating the licensing of the dev kit. I only hope they continue their trend of being less evil.

        If the windows version fails because of the price, Microsoft is not going to see further purpose in catering to the hacker/home DIYer market when it just gets burned anyway.

      • The Kinect exists as a reaction to the success of the Wii and MS hit it out of the park. Your point about R&D cost is valid, but the Kinect development investment has been more than paid for making PC sales just gravy.

        IMO the best thing MS could do to help bring that same success over to the PC would be to offer developer devkits at a discount and not a premium.

      • Bill says:

        If we remove the R&D costs, I’m still willing to bet cost of licensing, manufacturing, QA, packaging, shipping, distribution, support logistics, advertising, etc is double the BoM, making the $150 price point a break-even at best. $56 is just for the parts being sent to the plant. You still gotta pay the bills of the plant putting it together.

        And if they are making some profit off it, why not? They are a business, that’s how they measure success. Let’s show them catering to the hacker/home-DIYer is a successful venture.

      • Decius says:

        I enjoyed reading your comment, you don’t happen to write articles do you? ha, well put and it informed me. I understand how people always jump on the “well It only costs the Company this and this to make so and so product”.

        Nothing like adding in facts to show your point :D just wanted to tell you awesome comment(s)!

        I too look forward to see what Microsoft has in-store for the “DIY/hacker department” that is already taking shape since the release of the Kinect.

      • Mikey says:

        Keep in mind any litigation they have to deal with (like from the guy they stole the idea for the Kinect from — featured in a HaD article a while back).

        And also firmware/software development — which lets face it, is still ongoing. If you think there will never be a driver update, or a windows update that contains security fixes (which were only needed as a result of this thing) you’re dreaming.

        Though, those costs exist for the Xbox version as well, so it doesn’t explain the OFFSET, but it does explain some hidden costs aside from manufacturing.

        The offset price could be as simple as “We expect to sell fewer of these, so we’re not producing them en-masse as efficiently as the Xbox ones and therefore they cost us more to produce.”

        My $.02

  2. Alan says:

    I bought a power source from Craigslist and hooked it up to my computer last year, I wonder if it’s even worth dishing out $150 for it…

  3. floe says:

    let me point out here that the “near mode” is purely a software thing and is just as easy to get when using the “regular” Kinect + the OpenKinect drivers from http://www.openkinect.org/

  4. xorpunk says:

    the hacker market is a really good market :T

    most people who dev with these make six figures or high-five, so it’ll likely not drop.. I think I’d charge the same since it seems to be a white collar in hobo clothes type reaction to the price..

  5. Tom says:

    Would you be able to point two kinects at the same scene and get meaningful data or would the infrared dots that they emit mix up and confuse them both?

    • resistator says:

      Yeah, this post makes it sound like you could use 4 kinects simultaneously…can they be used simultaneously on the same object? With 4 kinects surrounding an object, you could make a near-full 3D model (top and bottom still not filled), not just a depth map from a single plane.

    • Yan Nic says:

      Kinects will interfere. The projected laser dots are the same for all devices and the wavelength of the laser is always the same, too. I have access to multiple Kinects and tested it. It will crash with too many Kinects pointing into the same scene. When four Kinects capture the same wall the depth image will be rather noisy, if the Kinects point onto one object from different sides it may be fine though, as the different Kinects will not see much of the pattern of the other ones.

      There is also some research to multiplex Kinects. Google will help :-)

  6. Iv says:

    Hacking friendly ? This is windows-only, the source of the skeleton tracking is still undisclosed, and 40 cm (50 cm rather) is the close range I can have on my kinect with openKinect drivers. I didn’t read the EULA because I am already uninterested but I heard it is very restrictive. (No commercial use for instance)

    This is not a good deal. Just ignore it.

  7. cgimark says:

    This is just MS PR. Now if they block or make using the future version of the xbox kinect harder to use on the pc they will just point to the ‘ we have a windows version’ . MS does this with a lot of their software where they will create a product never intending to fully support it just to be able to say ‘ see we are trying’ .

  8. Cennar says:

    well, there at least not making it backwards brick old firmware like responsible sonys joist removal of oh so many modded PSP units. I can understand being not happy about pirates and stuff, but when every one hates you for taking away some thing they paid you for, that they paid you for.. I think then these people will quickly forget about what your offering. Like the PSN network there after… any way on point, yeah the Microsucks got to make you pay for it. it’s up to you how you get a hold of it. I mean you could wait till boxing day or some thing (YEAH RIGHT, buy the x-box and then get the software) You’d imagine they might just integrate the Kenect to windows or some wierd thing, there is all kinds of money to microsuck at, might even put out more hardware on the pc side as they are going to have an other kenects some time for latter versions of the x-box, versions with better conectivity that USB2 what ever that translates onto PCs like would come along after. Microsuck gets deep, if they can seed it they will watch it come of age first…

  9. buZz says:

    Really don’t understand why Microsoft is trying to force you to give in to Vendor lock-in, when it’s not even their own hardware to begin with! The Kinect sensor is made by Primesense, and they have been supporting the hardware with an opensource SDK since day 1.

    Also, there is 0 hardware difference between this and the ‘old’ kinect.

    Who in their right mind uses that malware attractor called Windows anyway :P

  10. QuakeAngel says:

    I have to say MS is ill advised to release a $250 kinect when a similar one can be had for half that. MS is going to be their own competitor and have a more expensive price? Are you kidding me. BTW, no one cares what it costs to make or what it takes to keep a company going. Take a lesson from Walmart, price its the biggest consideration when buying a product. Who the user is or how much they can pay have nothing to do with what a consumer is willing to pay. Same features and no perceivable difference other than a higher cost. Yeah thats going over like a lead balloon.

  11. signal7 says:

    “Over the years”? For it to be ‘years’, then adafruit would have had to have had their open source drivers bounty offered up in Feb of 2010. As it is, it was November of 2010 before the first drivers were available and the bounty was won. Not trying to be pedantic, but it seems were on internet ‘years’ in this post ;-)

  12. dreamer says:

    If you want closer range on your kinect it’s possible to buy a pair of “kinect-glasses”.

    Search for ‘Nyko Zoom’.

    Futher more: humbug

  13. WTP says:

    The BIG CASH PROBLEM with KforPC – If you are going to use SDK, it REQUIRES VisStudio 2010 Now, if MS really wanted to package, they’d give away the hardware with VS at almost NO COST. I have hard times programming my way out of a paper bag on anything but 12- and 18-bit machines (and DEC 36-bit Assembler), cuz when I traded in my heavy metal, I became a “user”, so every little bit helps.

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