When Microsoft's Kinect camera for the Xbox 360 was released in 2010, enterprising software developers and high-tech hobbyists quickly learned how to use the hardware on Windows PCs for everything from motion control to augmented reality. A version of the original Kinect camera for Windows PCs followed in 2012.
The new hardware closely copies the Xbox One version, trading the original's rounded edges for a boxy, squared-off shape. Placed side by side, you'll notice that the PC version has the Kinect logo stamped on its top panel, and the power indicator is simply a glowing light, not a stylized Xbox logo, as on the console version.
The look and name of the camera are not new; Microsoft revealed these on March 27 in a blog post, and some software developers have been part of an alpha program with access to early hardware and software since last year.Unlike the Xbox One Kinect, the V2 version for PCs plugs into a bulky hub box. From there, you connect the sensor itself, a USB 3.0 cable that goes to your PC, and a power cable to an electrical outlet.
Developers working with early versions of Kinect V2 have said it offers many improvements, including capturing full-HD video, and offputting processing tasks to the PC's GPU rather than its CPU. At Build 2014, Microsoft's developer conference, the company said it should work in smaller spaces than the original Kinect for Windows, and that it will have appeal far beyond gaming.
The Kinect for Windows V2 is expected to be available this summer.