It’s rather obvious that Kinect won’t remain an Xbox 360-exclusive for very long, especially now that PrimeSense, the company behind the unique NUI technology, has just made available the official drivers for Windows and for the Ubuntu distribution of Linux.
According to the documentation accompanying the downloads, the Kinect drivers are designed to integrate seamlessly with Windows XP, Windows Vista and Windows 7 (32-bit only) and Linux Ubuntu 10.10 and later (x86 and x64).
Both the binaries and the additional resources can be grabbed free of charge via OpenNI, a project supported by PrimeSense, Willow Garage and Side-kick.
The following releases can already be downloaded: OpenNI 1.0 Alpha build 23 binaries for Win32; OpenNI 1.0 Alpha build 23 binaries for Ubuntu 10.10 32bit; and OpenNI 1.0 Alpha build 23 binaries for Ubuntu 10.10 64bit.
Of course, as I’ve said, there are additional resources up for grabs, and those interested better head over to OpenNI as soon as possible.
The source code of the drivers was also shared, which is only natural, considering that the entire initiative is open source.
“OpenNI is written and distributed under the GNU Lesser General Public License which means that its source code is freely-distributed and available to the general public,” reads an excerpt out of the documentation for the driver.
“You can redistribute it and/or modify it under the terms of the GNU Lesser General Public License as published by the Free Software Foundation, either version 3 of the License, or (at your option) any later version.”
Microsoft released Kinect for Xbox 360 only recently and already sold in excess of 2.5 million units.
Kinect is based on a concept dubbed natural user interface (NUI) which is a new paradigm in human-computer interaction involving touch, speech and command recognition, hand gestures, and body motion tracking.
With Kinect, gamers can interact with Xbox 360 content using their voice, gestures and their entire bodies.
“OpenNI (Open Natural Interaction) is a multi-language, cross-platform framework that defines APIs for writing applications utilizing Natural Interaction. OpenNI APIs are composed of a set of interfaces for writing NI applications.
“The main purpose of OpenNI is to form a standard API that enables communication with both: vision and audio sensors, and vision and audio perception middleware,” it is added in the documentation.