Microsoft’s attempt to counteract the popularity of Sony’s PlayStation gave birth to the Kinect for Xbox, which didn’t really attain the success that Microsoft had hoped for. And after a while Microsoft just realized that the Kinect was not really the money spinner they had hoped it would be, and discontinued it. And now at the annual developer conference of Microsoft, Build 2018, CEO Satya Nadella announced the technology is coming back as Kinect for Azure, which will help developers work on new ambient based computing applications.
Though we don’t yet know much about the new Kinect for Azure, what we do know is that it is based on Microsoft’s “next generation” depth camera. This camera comes with computing abilities to use the Azure AI services. Kinect for Azure will track the hands, use highly accurate special mapping, and other features. According to Microsoft all of this comes in a very compact and power efficient form factor.
Alex Kipman who is the inventor of HoloLens, and a Microsoft technical fellow wrote in a blog post, “The technical breakthroughs in our time-of-flight (ToF) depth-sensor mean that intelligent edge devices can ascertain greater precision with less power consumption. There are additional benefits to the combination of depth-sensor data and AI. Doing deep learning on depth images can lead to dramatically smaller networks needed for the same quality outcome. This results in much cheaper-to-deploy AI algorithms and a more intelligent edge.”
The blog post confirms that the HoloLens will have the Project Kinect sensor bundle in, and will replace the third-generation Kinect depth sensor bringing new capabilities.