Microsoft has improved the Kinect hardware for the Windows version.
New firmware means the depth camera can see objects as close as 50 centimetres in front of Kinect without losing accuracy or precision. Expect "graceful degradation" down to 40 centimetres.
This ties in to "Near Mode", which will enable close up applications "beyond the living room scenarios for Kinect for Xbox 360", General Manager of Kinect for Windows Craig Eisler said. "This is one of the most requested features from the many developers and companies participating in our Kinect for Windows pilot program and folks commenting on our forums, and we're pleased to deliver this, and more, at launch."
Microsoft has optimised "certain hardware components" and made firmware adjustments which "better enable PC-centric scenarios" for Kinect for Windows, due out early 2012.
This is in addition to upgrades and improvements Microsoft is making to the Software Development Kit. "The new hardware delivers features and functionality that Windows developers and Microsoft customers have been asking for," Eisler said.
The USB cable has been shortened to "ensure reliability across a broad range of computers". A small dongle is includes to "improve coexistence with other USB peripherals".
Microsoft's Kinect for Windows launches next year for companies who want to use it for commercial purposes. Kinect for Xbox 360, which launched in November 2010, is the fastest-selling consumer electronics device ever, and has shifted 10 million units.