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Microsoft unveils even more tempting Kinect offering: Open source

This has people up in arms, in a good way

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First it was developer tools, then Kinect for the PC, now Microsoft's given hackers a shot at the Kinect code under an open-source license.

Specifically, Redmond has now released samples of the Kinect code under an Apache license to serve as a template for hackers building apps for the hands-free motion controller that's been proving so alluring to techies across many sectors.

Samples cover audio, colour, depth, face tracking, infrared, shapes, skeletal viewers, gestures and speech basics and are available in a variety of C#, C++, Visual Basic and DirectX.

You'll need the SDK and Microsoft toolkit to work with the samples.

Microsoft's released code to enable faster uptake, so you don't need to bother downloading and installing the full developer toolkit if all you want is just a few pieces.

Why? Microsoft wants feedback from the community on how to improve the samples, and - therefore - the Kinect code.

Code's been released to Microsoft's open source project hosting side CodePlex with a Git repository to permit cloning and forking.

Kinect's success has surpassed Microsoft's expectations. When Microsoft released the device in November 2010, it was simply as a hands-free motion-sensing alternative Xbox controller.

The Kinect won a Guinness World Record for fastest selling consumer electronics device: and now hackers have gone well beyond games to re-deploy Kinect hardware - as seen here. Microsoft's own researchers are using the Kinect's 3D camera too, in experiments to attempt to construct Star Trek-style holodecks and Minority Report-esque 3D touch-displays.

Open sourcers also got in on the act, with a race to build Kinect drivers for Linux shortly after launch.

Microsoft responded by making Kinect easier to access. It's released a Kinect sensor for PC, SDKs to build non commercial and commercial apps for the PC, and firmware updates to permit use of the controller at distances closer than the usual sitting-room gaming range. ®

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