A new Kinect is here, sorta. Microsoft is now selling a slightly tweaked (but way more accurate) Kinect sensor for Windows PCs that could revolutionize entire industries, in the same way the iPad has transformed entire industries.
If you thought the Kinect for Xbox 360 was expensive at $150, wait until you get a wind of its price for Windows: it's $250.
Hold on a second, when you consider what you're getting, $250 isn't that expensive. For starters, you don't need to buy a $200 (minimum) Xbox 360 to get the sensor running (assuming you own a Windows computer). Remember, Kinect is essentially $30,000 technology for under $300.
Second, the PC version of Kinect has a "near mode" that tracks objects from a mere 15 inches away. That's much more flexible than the six to eight feet that the 360 Kinect requires (unless you got a Nyko Zoom that shortens that to about four feet). Keep in mind this new sensor is a Windows-only product. You won't be able to plug it into an Xbox 360 for gaming.
Third, the Kinect for Windows SDK download is free, so you can get tinkering immediately, at no extra charges. ZDNet also quotes Windows general manager Craig Eisler as saying that the SDK will support four Kinect sensors plugged into one PC.
With four Kinects, we might finally get full 3D holographic images as opposed to the half-sided ones that one Kinect sensor can provide.
Kinect for Windows is going to be big (as if all the hacks didn't tell us that already). Microsoft wants Kinect to be used for businesses, medical purposes, education, shopping — everything. If the improved tracking is as responsive from 15 inches as Microsoft claims, we could be seeing some serious Minority Report type interfaces and applications real soon. Oooh man!
If the "Kinect Effect" wasn't real before, it's about to get very real now.