There is no doubt that Kinect is revolutionizing robotics. At last there is a low-cost, easy-to-use sensor that provides a robot with the information it needs about the things around it.
What many people have missed is that Microsoft also has an important robotic product ready and waiting to use the Kinect - the Robotics Development Studio. It can be downloaded for free and it works with Visual Studio. You can use it to program real robots or just use the built-in simulator. It takes an asynchronous approach to programming and there is a visual programming language - imaginatively called VPL for Visual Programming Language. It also supports a range of real robotic hardware.
New is the Kinect Services for RDS which adds the Kinect as a sensor to the robot platform. You can now write VPL programs that use the depth field/RGB data on a real robot or in the simulation. The sample program is of a robot that wanders around guided by the Kinect.
The quickest way to find out about it is to view the video:
What is surprising is that Microsoft hasn't made more of Kinect to drive its ambitions in the robotics arena. At the moment most robot programmers prefer to use a home brewed system or the open source ROS (Robotics Operating System). Kinect could be the edge the Microsoft needs to make its RDS system useful in education and experimentation.
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