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Launch set for Kinect for Windows commercial SDK

Microsoft has yet to provide an exact launch date, but it will allow companies to use Kinect for commercial purposes starting sometime in early 2012.

Microsoft's Kinect platform can be used in more ways than some realize.
Microsoft's Kinect platform can be used in more ways than some realize.

Microsoft is finally opening up its Kinect motion-gaming peripheral for commercial, third-party applications.

The software giant said today that starting in early 2012, any company will be able to access a Kinect software development kit (SDK) that will let them create commercial applications for Windows. Already, 200 companies, including Toyota and Razorfish, are taking advantage of Microsoft's commercial SDK as part of a pilot program.

Microsoft did not announce an exact release date for its commercial SDK.

A commercial SDK is a long time coming for companies that have been hoping to take advantage of Kinect on PCs. Currently, the software giant offers a noncommercial SDK to developers, but its use has been limited to academics and enthusiasts who have no plans to sell their projects. The commercial launch will finally let companies profit on the applications they create with the help of Kinect.

Microsoft's motion-gaming peripheral launched last November. The device allows gamers to control on-screen action with only the movement of their bodies. Soon after the device launched, however, several enthusiasts saw the value of using Kinect in other ways and created a number of applications that took advantage of its motion-sensing abilities. Earlier this year, Microsoft finally embraced that with the launch of its SDK.

With Microsoft's latest move, Kinect could become a much more significant aspect of its business. In fact, earlier this year, Anoop Gupta, a Microsoft Research scientist, told CNET he believes Kinect "could be a meaningful business" and added that it provides "both the hardware and the software opportunity" for developers.

The Kinect SDK will undoubtedly work on Windows 7, but what about Windows 8? At this point, Microsoft isn't saying whether the platform will work on its upcoming operating system, and it did not immediately respond to CNET's request for comment. But considering that the next operating system will likely launch next year, it would only make sense for Microsoft to push developers toward that product, as well.

Until then, developers looking to learn more about creating applications with the Kinect can click here to get started.