Microsoft took to stage at Mobile World Congress to announce its HoloLens 2, but during that time, they also announced the new avatar of the Kinect. Microsoft is officially bringing the defunct Xbox accessory back, but not as an accessory for the Xbox. The new Kinect will have nothing to do with the console, but Microsoft, it seems, finally has a plan for the device.
The new Kinect, for starters, is a whole lot smaller than the one we saw ship with the Xbox. Microsoft has revamped the Kinect to be a PC accessory that weighs just 440 grams. The light and compact Kinect now houses an upgrade RGB camera capable of resolving images in 3840x2160. In addition to the new camera, there are also 7 microphones on board, against the 4 that were present on the Kinect for Xbox.
The purpose of the new Kinect is to help developers leverage the device in conjunction with Azure for computer vision and speech models. Microsoft plans to release an Azure Kinect Developer Kit. Unfortunately, any developer who has an existing Kinect app will need to recode the app to work with the new SDK as the two formats won't talk to each other. To augment the Azure Kinect SDK, Microsoft will release new sensor SDK, body tracking SDK, vision APIs, and speech service although Microsoft has not yet released all the SDKs just yet.
For the very few hoping to use the Kinect with the Xbox, this new camera is not compatible with the Xbox in any way. However, The Verge reports that the new camera works just like the old one in terms of its ability to track body movement in X, Y and Z axis. Azure Kinect has a retail price of $399 and is up for pre-order.
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