Also, Kinect for Windows toolkit helps developers build Kinect awareness into Windows apps beyond gaming, for example in healthcare and automotive industries
Microsoft Surface Tablet: 10 Coolest Features
(click image for larger view and for slideshow)
With the holiday shopping season just around the corner, Microsoft is slashing the price of its hot-selling Xbox Kinect hands-free motion controller.
Starting immediately, the U.S. price for the standalone Kinect Sensor, not including an Xbox console, falls from $149.99 to $109.99, a reduction of 27%.
"There will be also a permanently reduced price in North America, Latin America and Asia Pacific regions where Kinect is sold," said Larry Hryb, director of Xbox Live programming, in a blog post announcing the price cut.
"Additionally, on October 4, the Kinect sensor will be available for a permanently reduced price in Australia and New Zealand," said Hryb, who goes by the handle "Major Nelson" when he's on the Xbox Live network. "The final retail price will vary in each region based on the currency and other variables." As of Thursday, the new price was already in effect on major retail sites like Best Buy and Amazon.
Xbox users in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and Japan are out of luck however. Those regions will not see Kinect price cuts, according to Hryb.
Kinect, which allows users to control on-screen Xbox action through physical gestures and voice commands, is the fastest-selling product in tech industry history, according to Guinness Records. Consumers will no doubt welcome the price cut, but for Microsoft, the platform is about more than just orcs and avatars.
To drive commercial development, the company has released a toolkit that helps developers build Kinect awareness into Windows applications. The Kinect for Windows SDK gives software developers the ability to create apps that leverage Kinect's most advanced capabilities, including sound localization, depth and distance interpretation, skeletal tracking, and advanced audio processing.
In one non-gaming application, healthcare tech specialist Tedesys, of Cantabria, Spain, is developing a Kinect-based platform that's meant to allow physicians to operate on patients through remotely controlled instruments--an application that could save lives in disaster areas, battlefields, and other areas that may be physically inaccessible or where it would be too dangerous to send in doctors.
Numerous organizations that represent other industries are also deploying pilot projects around Kinect, according to Microsoft. Toyota, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, and Razorfish are among the early adopters.
Microsoft hopes that the promise of hands-free interaction, along with advances in 3-D technology, will lend a new lease on life to Windows PCs, which have seen a drop off in sales as more consumers turn to tablets and smartphones for their computing and communications needs.
Don't be distracted by native vs. browser or iPhone vs. Android. Our survey shows functionality matters most when developing for mobile. Also in the new, all-digital The App Flap issue of InformationWeek: Verify that your cloud service provider's controls will actually protect your data. (Free registration required.)
Building A Mobile Business MindsetAmong 688 respondents, 46% have deployed mobile apps, with an additional 24% planning to in the next year. Soon all apps will look like mobile apps – and it's past time for those with no plans to get cracking.
Join us for a roundup of the top stories on InformationWeek.com for the week of December 7, 2014. Be here for the show and for the incredible Friday Afternoon Conversation that runs beside the program!