Microsoft has released v1.6 of the Kinect for Windows SDK with support for Windows 8 application support, Visual Studio 2012 development support. You can develop Windows Store applications that would utilize the Kinect Sensor through the USB interface, the new SDK provides enough support necessary for application development using Visual Studio 2012 in a Windows 8 environment.

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The Kinect for Windows Software Development Kit (SDK) enables developers to create applications that support gesture and voice recognition, using Kinect sensor technology on computers running Windows 7, Windows 8, and Windows Embedded Standard 7.

What’s new?

The Kinect for Windows SDK, driver, and runtime v1.6 are 100% compatible with Kinect for Windows v1.0 and 1.5 applications and include new features such as: access to additional features of the Kinect Sensor, improved developer efficiency, and new operating system and tools support.

[Quoting from Release notes]

Windows 8 Support

Using the Kinect for Windows SDK, you can develop a Kinect for Windows application for a desktop application in Windows 8.

Visual Studio 2012 Support

The SDK supports development with Visual Studio 2012, including the new .NET Framework 4.5.

Accelerometer Data APIs

Data from the sensor’s accelerometer is now exposed in the API. This enables detection of the sensor’s orientation.

Extended Depth Data Is Now Available

CopyDepthImagePixelData() now provides details beyond 4 meters; please note that the quality of data degrades with distance. In addition to Extended Depth Data, usability of the Depth Data API has been improved. (No more bit masking is required.)

Color Camera Setting APIs

The Color Camera Settings can now be optimized to your environment.

  • You can now fine-tune white balance, contrast, hue, saturation, and other settings.
  • To see the full list, launch Kinect Explorer from Developer Toolkit Browser and review the Exposure Settings and Color Settings controls for a full list of settings that can be optimized.

More Control over Decoding

New RawBayer Resolutions for ColorImageFormat give you the ability to do your own Bayer to RGB conversions on CPU or GPU.

New Coordinate Space Conversion APIs

There are several new APIs to convert data between coordinate spaces: color, depth, and skeleton. There are two sets of APIs: one for converting individual pixels and the other for converting an entire image frame.

German Language Pack for Speech Recognition

The SDK ships with a German speech recognition language pack that has been optimized for the sensor’s microphone array.

Infrared Emitter Control API

The sensor’s infrared emitter has previously always been on when the sensor is active, which can cause depth detection degradation in a scenario where multiple sensors are observing the same space. There is a new API (KinectSensor.ForceInfraredEmitterOff) for turning the infrared emitter off.

Introducing New Samples!

  • Basic Interactions-WPF: Demonstrates basic gestures, such as targeting and selecting with a cursor, as well as appropriate feedback mechanisms for an optimal user experience.
  • WPF D3D Interop: Demonstrates DirectX 11 interop with WPF, including full WPF composition of DirectX surfaces.
  • Infrared Basics-WPF, Infrared Basics-D2D: Demonstrates using an infrared stream and displaying an image using depth data.

 

Kinect Studio 1.6.0

Kinect Studio has been updated to support the Infrared, RawBayer, Extended Depth Data, and Accelerometer features.

The Infrared Stream Is Now Exposed in the API

The Kinect sensor’s infrared stream is now exposed as a new ColorImageFormat.

You can use the infrared stream in many scenarios, such as:

  1. Calibrating other color cameras to the Kinect’s depth sensor
  2. Capturing grayscale images in low-light situations
  3. Two infrared samples have been added to the toolkit, and you can also try out infrared in KinectExplorer.

Note that the sensor is not capable of capturing infrared streams and color streams simultaneously. You can, however, capture infrared and depth streams simultaneously.

Support for Virtual Machines

The Kinect for Windows sensor now works on Windows running in a virtual machine and has been tested with the following VM environments:

  • Microsoft HyperV
  • VMWare
  • Parallels

This greatly expands the utility of the Kinect for Windows SDK, as it can now be used on any machine whose native OS supports running Windows in one of the VM packages listed above. In particular, this enables several developer scenarios, such as certain automated testing approaches.

 

Setup and configuration details for using the Kinect with the tested VMs are contained in the Getting Started section of this documentation.

 

Note that only one Kinect at a time will work with a given VM, and you may experience lower frame rates on lower-end computers as some computing resources are consumed by the VM itself.

[Quoting from Release notes]

View release notes for understanding the complete set of feature improvements in v1.6.

 

Download Kinect for Windows SDK v1.6  (Version: 1.6.0.505)

Download Kinect for Windows Developer Toolkit v1.6 (Version: 1.6.0.309)

 

Additional reference about release – read the Kinect for Windows team announcement blog