The Kinect has enjoyed a rapid rise to fame thanks to Microsoft. But now its original manufacturer is planning to bring out a competing device, the WAVI Xtion, for the PC.
Although we tend to think of the Kinect as a Microsoft device it really isn't. Microsoft bought the basic concept, hardware etc. from PrimeSense a relatively small company. Now just as once Microsoft sold MS-DOS to compete with IBMs PC-DOS, PrimeSense is planning to offer a custom Kinect-like device specifically for the PC.
Why Microsoft didn't insist on an exclusive licence - even if it cost more - is a mystery. Presumably it has already forgotten the lessons of history. PrimeSense has teamed up with Asus to produce the hardware.
The new product called WAVI Xtion - which isn't quite as good a name as Kinect, which already wasn't a particular good name - will be shown off for the first time at CES.
PrimeSense is planning to apeal to all of the hackers who have taken a Kinect device and connected it to something other than an XBox. PrimeSense has already started an Open Source project with "official" drivers for Kinect-like sensors. The new device will have a full API and an app store where you will be able to sell anything you create.
The interesting thing is that the new WAVI Xtion will be just a raw device with some basic tracking software via the API. It isn't going to ship with any games, or even much in the way of applications. As some of the body tracking software was implemented by Microsoft, it isn't even clear what the device will be capable of. It might have a higher resolution than the Kinect because it doesn't have to have the response time of a game controller but this might not be enough to make it preferable to a hacked Kinect device. Having official drivers and easy installation might be enough, however.
As they say - watch this space...
or perhaps using the WAVI Xtion you could map this space...
Using the Kinect gets much easier
Kinect augmented reality x-ray (video)
3D Gesture Input
How Kinect tracks people