And it's not all about games. As Kinect-on-Xbox capabilities show, there are plenty of things you can do in non-gaming scenarios, including the control of media players.
But a lot of the smarts are implemented as software on the host device, rather than inside the Kinect. Those looking to use it as a controller for Windows-based PCs will fid the task much easier in the next couple of months when Microsoft releases a beta of the Kinect for Windows SDK.
Supported functionality will include skeletal tracking for one or two people at a time (ie, the basic Kinect interactivity), access to the colour camera stream and the distance of objects from the camera, and audio input with echo and noise cancellation, beam formation to identify the sound source, and integration with the Windows speech recognition API.
"Microsoft's support for Kinect beyond the Xbox platform will increase opportunities for developers to explore new ideas and deliver innovative Kinect applications and experiences. A richer Kinect for Windows API will enable the creativity of these development communities to really come to life," said Robert Tuttle, chief architect, frog design. Frog has already developed a PC game using the Kinect.
Developers wishing to be notified of the release of the Kinect for Windows Beta SDK can sign up here.