Microsoft has leaned in to the rejection of the Kinect by the entertainment industry and adoption instead by the medical and scientific communities by announcing a new version of the Kinect device with advanced AI meant to power computer vision and speech applications.
The original Microsoft Kinect device released in 2010 was intended for video gaming and never took off in that direction. However, the medical community in particular adopted and adapted the Kinect for a variety of uses. Now, Microsoft has announced the Azure Kinect DK, a new device that is squarely aimed at the health and life sciences, retail, and manufacturing industries, that will begin shipping in late June, 2019.
The Azure Kinect DK is equipped with a 1 MPixel time-of-flight depth sensor that can provide 640 x 576 or 512 x 512 at 30 fps, or 1024 x 1024 at 15 fps; an RGB camera based on an OV12A10 12 MPixel CMOS rolling shutter sensor that can provide 3840 x 2160 at 30 fps; a 7-microphone circular array; a 3-axis accelerometer; and a 3-axis gyroscope. The device is designed to be easily synchronized with multiple Kinect cameras simultaneously and to be integrated with Microsoft's Azure cloud services, including Azure Cognitive Services which can enable the use of Azure Machine Learning.
According to Microsoft, the new Kinect device is appropriate for a wide range of applications including physical therapy and patent rehabilitation, inventory management, smart palletizing and depalletizing, part identification, anomaly detection, and incorporation into robotics platforms.
Microsoft is also promoting a set of SDKs and APIs for the Azure Kinect DK, including a Body Tracking SDK that can observe and estimate 3D joints and landmarks in order to measure human movement, and a Vision API that can enable image processing algorithms, optical character recognition, or image categorization.
The Azure Kinect DK measures 103 x 39 x 126 mm and features a USB 3.1 gen 1 interface with a Type-C connector. It can operate in an ambient temperature range of 10° C to 25° C.