Microsoft Discontinues Kinect, Again

The Kinect is a depth-sensing camera peripheral originally designed as a accessory for the Xbox gaming console, and it quickly found its way into hobbyist and research projects. After a second version, Microsoft abandoned the idea of using it as a motion sensor for gaming and it was discontinued. The technology did however end up evolving as a sensor into what eventually became the Azure Kinect DK (spelling out ‘developer kit’ presumably made the name too long.) Sadly, it also has now been discontinued.

The original Kinect was a pretty neat piece of hardware for the price, and a few years ago we noted that the newest version was considerably smaller and more capable. It had a depth sensor with selectable field of view for different applications, a high-resolution RGB video camera that integrated with the depth stream, integrated IMU and microphone array, and it worked to leverage machine learning for better processing and easy integration with Azure. It even provided a simple way to sync multiple units together for unified processing of a scene.

In many ways the Kinect gave us all a glimpse of the future because at the time, a depth-sensing camera with a synchronized video stream was just not a normal thing to get one’s hands on. It was also one of the first consumer hardware items to contain a microphone array, which allowed it to better record voices, localize them, and isolate them from other noise sources in a room. It led to many, many projects and we hope there are still more to come, because Microsoft might not be making them anymore, but they are licensing out the technology to companies who want to build similar devices.

14 thoughts on “Microsoft Discontinues Kinect, Again

    1. I’m wrong. Ihe core patent ( US7433024 “Range mapping using speckle decorrelation” ), in my mind – there may be others that are more important , will not expire until 2027-05-18.

  1. And here I was thinking it was an Israeli company called Prime Sense which created the technology and licensed to Microsoft and others(ex: Asus ). Prime Sense was purchased by Apple after it was published that Google was working with PrimeSense for a compact 3D camera to fit onto Android tablets. It was over 10 years before anything using the technology showed up in any Apple product. Or maybe Microsoft did invent the technology and that was all a dream. In that dream, Adafruit even had a key role in the Kinect product becoming popular outside of gaming and Microsoft tried to stop them.

    1. Afair MS spend >$1Billion buying everything that moved and claimed to do depth/tof. The plan was to go with Time of Flight camera, but R&D didnt go as fast as planned and Prime Sense license was a last minute effort to salvage the project. Second Kinect was finally the result of those early acquisitions.

    1. If you lookup references in the “US7433024” patent, Microsoft may not own the current technology but they sure owned a lot of patent landmines in, around and surrounding that whole area.

    2. No, Apple acquired Primesense, the maker of the structured light sensor in Kinect v1, after Kinect v1 was released. Kinect v2 and Azure Kinect used a different technology (time of flight) and different sensors.

  2. There is still the Intel RealSense product line. When I worked with AR stuff I got the impression those were really used more in the industry. (Where the Kinect products were more for building hacks.)

    As an example, I believe Intel has ARM and Linux SDKs so you can run it on device not connected to the internet. Or not running Windows.

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