Cool device that doesn't Kinect to PC (yet)

CHRIS GARDNER
Last updated 08:56 10/05/2012
Kinect for PC: Coming to your PC soon, unless you’re a software developer.

Kinect for PC: Coming to your PC soon, unless you’re a software developer.

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Fancy hooking a Kinect sensor up to your personal computer? You know, the sort of device that turns your body into a mouse by capturing your deranged arm and leg waving and translates it into commands for your computer.

Think again, unless you're a software developer capable of writing your own software to get the two talking.

While Microsoft has released a version of the X-Box 360 peripheral to work with PCs running the Windows 7 operating system, the Kinect doesn't come with any software that enables you to control your computer by waving your hands, legs or any other part of your body at it. For now, that luxury is reserved for Microsoft's Xbox 360 entertainment platform. You need a Kinect for Xbox 360, an Xbox 360 console and some games written for the Kinect console to do that. And there are plenty of options.

But back to the Kinect for PC. Microsoft has released a software development kit (SDK) for the Kinect for PC device, which means an army of very clever people are now working on ways to use the Kinect on PCs.

And there are some impressive results. It's already been used in operating theatres, allowing surgeons to call up information with a wave in the middle of an operation. At Waikato University you can turn yourself into Superman and fly over Google Maps using the Kinect for PC as well as meet others in a virtual meeting room. Another, more enigmatic, project I am yet to hear more on is using it for dance/design.

Now I'm no developer. I struggled with French at school let alone computer coding, so I was a little disappointed to find the Kinect for PC I borrowed from Microsoft did absolutely nothing when I plugged it into my home PC running Windows 7 Premium (64 bit).

If I could hang on to it for a year or two perhaps somebody will have written something that will enable me to open and operate my PC with a wave from the other side of the room.

Very good if you're running a media centre.

In the meantime the only way to use the Kinect sensor is when it's plugged into the Xbox 360.

I'm no gamer, apart from a few years in my teens when I played every Star Wars and Star Trek game going, so I didn't expect to get too excited over the Xbox 360 with Kinect that I also borrowed from Microsoft.

Despite the device being out for a few years I'd never given it a proper go, and I expected a gaming console would be the last thing my wife wanted in the house.

Because it's primarily controlled by bodily motion, games mirror things you can do in the real world. A virtual walk around Disneyland, for example, a round of golf, or a slalom course.My 6-year-old son and 4-year-old daughter were lining up, mum close behind, to give it a go and gran and granddad even gave it a spin when they dropped by – dubiously at first, but they enjoyed it.

None of us would consider ourselves gamers of any degree, let alone hardcore, but we had a blast sharing some family time in front of the device.

Like a board game the Xbox 360, then, is the sort of thing my family would get out on a rainy day rather than spend every day in front of.

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That said, the platform is capable of far more, including watching movies from optical discs or online services.Follow me on Twitter @iTimesEditor

- © Fairfax NZ News

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