While it is easy to see Kinect as a forgotten piece of Microsoft hardware, the company is persevering with the motion sensor. An update for Kinect has introduced a number of new features. Among the changes is support from RGB, depth, and infrared data for third-party Universal Windows Platform apps. The company promised this support earlier in the year.
Microsoft is delivering this third-party UWP app support through a Kinect driver for Windows 10. This new driver allows users to set Kinect to work as a webcam. This can be achieved by opening Device Manager in Windows 10 and finding the “Kinect sensor devices” folder.
Because of this update, users can now make Skype calls with Kinect. They can also use the motion sensors for Windows Hello biometric authentication with face recognition. All of these features were announced by Yin Li in a blog post.
It is good to see Microsoft continuing to embrace its sensing hardware. It would be easy for the company to let it go off into the sunset, but added functionality makes the sensor useful. Indeed, the company has already made the device more open to developers in the Xbox Summer Update. Also, we imagine the motion sensing technology will become a big part of the company's virtual reality plans in the future.
Microsoft had huge plans for the device. Indeed, the company made the sensor an important part of the Xbox One set up at launch. So much so that the console and Kinect came arm-in-arm as if the sensor was indispensable.
That was not actually the case as users generally ignored the device. Xbox One consoles no longer ship with the sensor as a necessary component. However, updates like this show Microsoft has not abandoned its ideas entirely.