UPDATED 10:43 EDT / FEBRUARY 22 2011

Microsoft’s Kinect SDK Could Open the Door for a PC App Store

connecting-the-kinect The recent announcement by Microsoft that they intend to release a personal SDK for the Kinect that will enable the production of applications for Windows 7 has come with much fanfare. Commentary from Craig Mundie, the software giant’s chief strategy and research officer, has come out to enlighten us on Microsoft’s support of the developer community and their new awe of the innovative capabilities being revealed.

In an article written for the Wall Street Journal Digits blog, Nick Wingfield uncovers a few interesting elements concerning the release of the SDK,

Microsoft executives announced their plan at a meeting with a small group of press at the company’s Redmond, Wash., campus intended to showcase interesting technologies it’s cooking up its research labs. Craig Mundie said Microsoft wants to enable Kinect developers to create more and better applications using the company’s toolkit, including in fields like physical therapy.

“We think we’ll see a huge explosion in interest,” Mundie said. “We’ll welcome that and support it.”

The glittering revelation here is that Microsoft executives see an in for the Kinect for use in medical fields—something I myself have thought about for surgery and medical imaging—such as assisting with physical therapy. This is absolutely true as we’ve seen with the Nintendo Wii and yoga, the Kinect would add the exceptional element of being able to guide a user in-home just like a coach could towards the proper motions to promote healing.

But what really caught my attention happens to be a single comment added from an anonymous user, “Time for an app store.” In fact, there’s been a bit of discussion about how Microsoft expects to make money from their upcoming SDK. The corporation doesn’t seem to have a method for extracting royalties from PC applications that use the Kinect, they haven’t licensed the libraries, so they’ve rather left themselves outside of their own product when it comes to monetizing it.

This model may in fact find a second prong in app distribution and vetting, whereas the first prong is increasing Kinect sales themselves. With the advent of the Chrome web store we already know that some software development understands that PCs can also take advantage of app centralization and sales. This is precisely where Microsoft could extract a sort of royalties from Kinect-using applications, but they’ll do it by handing out an easy-to-use distribution method instead of licensing the libraries the Kinect uses for the PC.

Since their primary tactic appears to be to allow innovators to go whatever direction they want and they hope to expect to see that drive Kinect sales, an app store would become further gravy to drizzle on the consumer train. This also suggests that when Microsoft sits down to release the next version of the Kinect, it will be thinking about designing a version for PC users that takes unto account how PCs are used in a room vs. how television sets are used in a room.

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