We've known for a while that Microsoft were bringing the Kinect sensor -- their hugely successful Xbox 360 motion control peripheral -- official to Windows PC and now it has a release date. Especially given they'd been fostering all the hacks and cross-platform projects doing the rounds since its initial launch.
Dated for a February 1st, 2012, launch, it's not entirely clear how the Kinect for Windows product differs from the Xbox 360 peripheral, but according to the announcement, Microsoft have adopted a "hardware-only business model", meaning the cost is the Kinect sensor itself, and the SDK and future software updates will be made available for free.
There has been some minor changes to the hardware itself, with a shortening of the USB cable, a dongle addition for other USB devices and newer firmware that enables the camera to see objects as close as 50 centimeters in front of the device without losing accuracy or precision, with graceful degradation down to 40 centimetres. Another new software feature is a "Near Mode", which will "enable a whole new class of close up applications, beyond the living room scenarios for Kinect for Xbox 360".
The price tag? A suggested retail price of USD$249, which will most likely be somewhere over AUD$300. Also noted in a twitter comment
from Microsoft's Larry "Major Nelson" Hryb "that sensor will only work on computers running the SDK software", so sadly, you won't be able to use a Kinect for Windows sensor on your Xbox 360.
More information can be found on Microsoft's Blog over on the MSDN site