With all the hoopla about the release of the HoloLens 2—and its quickly growing software/hardware ecosystem for commercial users—you might not have noticed that Microsoft also made an announcement about its beloved Kinect 3D sensor. It’s back as a $399 computer peripheral called the Azure Kinect DK (or, “developer’s kit”).
Though the original Kinect inspired a generation of DIY users to experiment with 3D sensing, Microsoft stopped making it in October of 2017. Last year, the company resurrected the Kinect name in the guise of the Project Kinect for Azure, a cloud-enabled 3D sensor kit for AI applications.
With this latest Kinect release, Microsoft is putting a similar cloud-enabled sensor kit in an easy to use package that includes all of the company’s latest technology. That means it boasts the same 1 MP depth sensor as you’ll find in the HoloLens 2, seven (!) microphones, and a 12 MP RGB camera.
As with the earlier release—the Project Kinect for Azure—Microsoft intends for the Azure Kinect DK device to be used in cloud-connected AI-enabled applications. The company has argued in the past that using depth information enables more efficient deep learning, which means that deep-learning applications built on the back of the Kinect DK will require less sensor power, and less processing power, making it easy to do more with fewer sensors.
The Verge reported on one such application, which falls pretty far outside our usual purview, but illustrates the power of the device very well:
“Microsoft already has a partner using it in healthcare. Ocuvera is using the Azure Kinect sensor to stop patients from falling in hospitals. With a combination of AI algorithms, the sensor can determine if a patient is about to fall and alert a nurse before the fall takes place.”
You can preorder the Azure Kinect DK from Microsoft today for $399.