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With Microsoft’s October release of the second version of its Kinect for Windows sensor, it is getting ready to put the original version out to pasture.
In a blog post this morning, Microsoft said that it plans to retire the original sensor “in 2015.” The company was not more specific, but said it would only sell existing stock from here on out.
The Kinect is Microsoft’s $199 hands-free motion sensor system. It allows users to interact with many different kinds of apps — from games to productivity tools — with gestures or voice without touching a mouse, a joystick, or any other kind of physical controller.
“The move to [version 2] marks the next stage in our journey toward more natural human computing,” Microsoft wrote in the post. “The new sensor provides a host of new and improved features, including enhanced body tracking, greater depth fidelity, full 1080p high-definition video, new active infrared capabilities, and an expanded field of view.”
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The second version of the Kinect for Windows software development kit also provided the ability for developers to build Kinect-enabled apps for the Windows Store. In addition, Microsoft said in October that its Kinect Adapter for Windows would allow developers to design Kinect for Windows apps with an Xbox One version of the sensor.
Still, even though Microsoft is sunsetting the original Windows version of the Kinect sensor, it’s hard to deny the product’s impact. It’s not entirely clear how many units Microsoft sold, but it had moved 24 million by February 2013.
“The original Kinect for Windows sensor was a milestone achievement in the world of natural human computing,” Microsoft boasted in its blog post today. “It allowed developers to create solutions that broke through the old barriers of mouse and keyboard interactions, opening up entirely new commercial experiences in multiple industries, including retail, education, healthcare, education, and manufacturing.”
Of course, the Kinect isn’t the only hands-free controller on the market. Others include the Leap from Leap Motion. Another company in the industry, PrimeSense, was purchased in late 2013 by Apple.
In the meantime, Microsoft said it will not manufacture any more of the first version of the Kinect for Windows sensor, and that it hopes “everyone will embrace the latest Kinect technology as soon as possible.” The company added that customers who still want the original version should get in touch as soon as possible, and it will try to fulfill their orders. But once the current stock is sold out, that’s it.
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