Microsoft is adjusting firmware and optimizing certain hardware components to ready its Kinect motion-sensing input device for PCs running Windows, the company said Tuesday. Microsoft currently sells Kinect as a peripheral for its Xbox 360 game consoles, but has announced a Kinect for Windows commercial program that begins in early 2012.
"Coupled with the numerous upgrades and improvements our team is making to the Software Development Kit (SDK) and runtime, the new hardware delivers features and functionality that Windows developers and Microsoft customers have been asking for," Craig Eisler, general manager of Kinect for Windows, wrote in a blog post.
"Simple changes include shortening the USB cable to ensure reliability across a broad range of computers and the inclusion of a small dongle to improve coexistence with other USB peripherals," Eisler elaborated. "Of particular interest to developers will be the new firmware which enables the depth camera to see objects as close as 50 centimeters in front of the device without losing accuracy or precision, with graceful degradation down to 40 centimeters. 'Near Mode' will enable a whole new class of 'close up' applications, beyond the living room scenarios for Kinect for Xbox 360. This is one of the most requested features from the many developers and companies participating in our Kinect for Windows pilot program and folks commenting on our forums, and we're pleased to deliver this, and more, at launch."
The announcement comes the same day that Microsoft acquired VideoSurf for $70 million with an eye towards integrating the San Mateo, Calif.-based company's online video search technology into its Xbox Live ecosystem.
Long-tenured UK TV host Jonathan Ross was able to give the upcoming Xbox 360 motion gaming add-on, Project Natal, a try. Aside from the hint of jealousy he left us all with, he also tweeted out an interesting tidbit of information on his Twitter account, which in a nutshell says that he feels that Natal has potential, and that Microsoft has until October to get it right. So the obvious question is, does that imply that Natal gets an October launch (which does fit in with the holiday 2010 launch period)? Or does it mean it has to all be done so they can start packing and shipping devices for launch in early November? I’m sure everything will be made clear in a couple of months at E3.
Hit the break for a video of Jonathan giving Project Natal a try.
During the CES 2010 opening keynote, Microsoft announced that Project Natal would be launching in Holiday 2010. We take that to mean that we will be able to pick one up at a retail store sometime before Thanksgiving, giving us a good 11 month wait before we can get our hands on it, unless they have something good set up for E3 this year. During the event, Microsoft also showed off a demo video explaining the concept behind Natal and what it will be able to do for you. We captured it, and have it available for you here. Check it out, and color us excited.
A big thank you to Bing for sponsoring Gear Live’s CES 2010 coverage.
In this promotional trailer for the Wii version of Tomb Raider Anniversary, Producer Morgan Gray demonstrates some of the game’s Wii-specific motion controls. Using their Wiimotes, budding Lara Crofts will be able to “touch the game world for the first time.” Not in that way! No, instead players can use the controller as a pick-axe to remove obstructions or as a brush to clean off artifacts. Wiimote-specific control schemes for the various puzzles and combat sequences are obviously a given. All in all, this brief peek hints at motion control mechanics that are surprisingly well integrated with the core Tomb Raider gameplay. Gamers are understandably wary of some of these quickie PS2/PSP-to-Wii ports, but Tomb Raider Anniversary is one to keep an eye on.
Eidos has not given official word on a release date for the game besides “Coming Soon,” but we’re guessing it will hit in time for the holidays.
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