Kinect Lives On as Azure Kinect

At the start of yesterday’s HoloLens 2 announcement, Satya Nadella indicated that Microsoft would be announcing another product, too. It wasn’t exactly a “one more thing” moment, especially since it was announced before HoloLens 2. But it was a surprise.

And that surprise is a new hardware product called Azure Kinect. As its name implies, Azure Connect is a hardware device full of Kinect camera and sensors that connects to various Azure cloud services.

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No, it’s not a consumer product: Azure Kinect is aimed at the enterprise and at its developers. As such, I won’t be spending too much time on this here. Other than to note how interesting it is that Microsoft has never given up on this technology despite its implosion on Xbox.

“Azure Kinect is an intelligent edge device that doesn’t just see and hear but understands the people, the environment, the objects and their actions,” Microsoft’s Julia White said while announcing the product. “The level of accuracy you can achieve is unprecedented.”

With that positioning, Microsoft neatly justifies the product’s existence—just as it did later with HoloLens 2—and the years of investments its made in 3D depth sensing capabilities. That Azure Kinect is affordable, at $399, is important too.

But what’s the point? White said that Azure Kinect could be used to create 3D maps of rooms and other spaces, and that companies could use that data with Microsoft’s cloud-hosted AI algorithms to create unique software solutions. One example noted at the announcement came from healthcare, where Azure Kinect is being used to determine when patients are about to fall so that care providers can be warned and prevent accidents.

Azure Kinect is available for preorder now. You can learn more from the Microsoft website.

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Conversation 8 comments

  • dontbe evil

    25 February, 2019 - 7:01 am

    <p>love kinect technology … paul deosn't</p>

  • christian.hvid

    25 February, 2019 - 9:25 am

    <p>I can see this being used on factory floors to detect anomalies in a way that dumb cameras can't, thereby helping prevent accidents and stoppages. The surveillance industry should be interested too.</p><p><br></p><p>By the way, I've always wondered why Microsoft killed the XBox Kinect? There's a host of popular games for young kids – dancing games in particular – that depend entirely on the Kinect. Isn't that enough to keep manufacturing a device whose development cost is already sunk?</p><p><br></p>

    • Polycrastinator

      25 February, 2019 - 10:23 am

      <blockquote><em><a href="#407054">In reply to christian.hvid:</a></em></blockquote><p>That always seemed odd to me, too. It's a shame that they never had a "killer app" for adults, though. I always thought, when Homeworld was remastered for PC, an XBox version of that using Kinnect for controls would have absolutely blown people's minds, and it's a huge missed opportunity that no one did it.</p>

  • dcdevito

    25 February, 2019 - 10:53 am

    <p>Glad to see this product live on. I briefly owned an Xbox one with a Kinect and always thought it would live on its own. </p><p><br></p><p>Interesting side note: I worked for a mobile tech startup a couple of years ago, primarily focused on building solutions for healthcare. We hacked together a roving physical therapy assistant on wheels and used a Kinect for tracking patients movements. We were fascinated by the capabilities the Kinect had out of the box, but wished the device was smarter and connected to the cloud. This new version is it!</p><p><br></p><p>!Aqqyoc-B3fEAgutvvfch8Hm2CqmckQ</p><p><br></p><p>Frankenstein pic for reference</p>

  • solomonrex

    25 February, 2019 - 11:00 am

    <p>I think unfortunately someone else will have to popularize this tech. I find Echo and such invasive, but many people rely on them, and having this sort of sensor in a specific room – the entryway? – could find consumer uses. Obviously in the entryway,&nbsp;the burglar alarm, but with infrared it could also see dimly outside for packages and people. More appropriate to the Kinect you could get scanned for online clothes shopping, scan objects for 3d printing and it also responds to commands. These would be part time uses of course,&nbsp;so few would be interested at $400 still. Esp in the US without decent privacy protections.</p><p><br></p><p>Perhaps sports training/simulation like Trump's White House&nbsp;would be attractive. The early kinects were just too basic perhaps to catch on in certain niches.</p><p><br></p><p>The ambient computing idea seems to be that they're not very useful in pieces, such as google search features. But the whole adds up to more than the sum of its parts. No one needs a home 3d scanner, until you get used to it, just like no one needed a browser in their pocket, until you get used to it.</p>

  • Rob_Wade

    25 February, 2019 - 2:22 pm

    <p>I'm sorry, but if something only lives on in the enterprise, then it's effectively dead as far as I'm concerned. We're quite happy with the original Kinect on our original Xbox One.</p>

  • Bill Strong

    25 February, 2019 - 4:25 pm

    <p>These are important for indie game and movie devs, bringing the cost of mocap down to an affordable price.</p>

  • Bob Shutts

    25 February, 2019 - 4:38 pm

    <p>Perfect for the ghost hunters.</p>

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