Kinect's a cool piece of kit that's received a lot of hacking love and Microsoft is pushing it as a platform for businesses next year. But Kinect works best at six to eight feet. We sit at computers that are two feet away. See the problem?
The new Kinect hardware will be optimized for Windows (presumably Windows 7 and Windows 8).
The MSDN states that the new Kinect will detect gestures as close as 20-inches "without losing accuracy or precision, with graceful degradation down to 16-inches."
Other simple tweaks such as shortening the USB cable to ensure reliability between many types of computers and including a "small dongle to improve coexistence with other USB peripherals" will make the cut as well.
I'd say it's safe to assume that the new Kinect might even shrink a little. I mean, it did launch in 2010. Will we see laptops and PCs with a Kinect sensor/webcam built right in? It's possible.
On a side note, those with smaller apartments and businesses can try using the Nyko Zoom, a clip-on attachment that shortens Kinect's range to four to five feet. It's not going to give you the close range that the updated Kinect will, but it's still pretty useful for those with small spaces.
No release date has been set in stone, but do expect the updated Kinect to come in early 2012. Are you ready to Kinect with your computer?