Microsoft has decided to cease the production of its Azure Kinect Developer Kit. However, the depth-sensing camera technology integral to the kit will remain accessible through Microsoft's partner ecosystem. As a replacement, Microsoft has partnered with Orbbec who just released the Femto Bolt, a 3D depth and RGB USB-C camera.
A Decade of Depth-Sensing Innovations
Microsoft has been at the forefront of depth-sensing camera technology for over ten years. Their innovations have found applications in various products, from the Xbox's controller-free gaming to the HoloLens‘ scene understanding and hand-tracking capabilities. The most recent version of Microsoft's indirect time-of-flight (iToF) depth sensing technology was introduced with HoloLens 2 and was also made available to developers through the Azure Kinect Developer Kit.
Continued Support for Azure Kinect Developer Kit Users
Existing users of the Azure Kinect Developer Kit can continue using the product without any disruptions. The Azure Kinect Developer Kit SDK will remain available for download, and additional devices can be purchased until the end of October or while stocks last. Microsoft assures that sold devices will come with a standard limited hardware warranty. For those seeking long-term solutions or custom hardware adjustments, Microsoft recommends exploring offerings from their partners.
In their announcement, Microsoft expressed gratitude for the continued support and feedback from the community over the years, highlighting the remarkable achievements made possible through collaborative efforts.
Collaborations and Licensing
Throughout the years, Microsoft has fostered partnerships and licensed its depth-sensing technology to various partners. These collaborations have led to the creation of devices tailored to meet quality, experience, and industry-specific requirements. Microsoft emphasized the importance of ensuring that this technology remains available to the broader ecosystem. As newer iterations of depth cameras built on Microsoft's iToF depth sensing technology emerged, the company found it more beneficial to collaborate with industry leaders to provide comprehensive solutions.
For instance, Microsoft licensed its pixel and sensor technology to Analog Devices, an American multinational semiconductor company specializing in data conversion, signal processing, and power management technology. This partnership resulted in the creation of depth sensors, camera modules, and a custom low-power Depth ISP (Image Signal Processor). Additionally, Microsoft collaborated with SICK A.G., an industrial sensor manufacturer, to produce depth cameras like the Visionary-T Mini and the world's first 3D time-of-flight safety camera, the safeVisionary2.
In 2021, Microsoft began its partnership with Orbbec, integrating its technology into Orbbec's 3D depth cameras for manufacturing. This collaboration led to the introduction of cameras based on Microsoft's iToF depth technology.
New Offerings from Orbbec
Recently, Orbbec launched the Femto Bolt, a product that serves as an alternative for customers interested in the Azure Kinect Developer Kit. Orbbec's cameras, including the Femto Bolt, utilize the same depth camera module as the Azure Kinect Developer Kit. Developers can easily transition their existing applications from the Azure Kinect Developer Kit to Orbbec's cameras using the provided API bridge in their SDK.