The wireless Kinect interface has been an enormous success on Microsoft's Xbox 360 console, and has inspired legions of homebrew hackers to do weird and wonderful things with the controller.
Hackers have already used the device to bring gesture-based controls to Windows 7 PCs and home entertainment systems, as well as more esoteric uses, such as using the built-in cameras to turn a TV screen into an "augmented reality mirror" that shows the human skeleton beneath the user's body.
Microsoft initially resisted attempts to hack Kinect, but now seems keen to tap into the creativity of third-party developers.
The Kinect for Windows Software Development Kit (SDK) will initially be launched in the next couple of months, but only for non-commercial use. A commerical SDK will be made available at a later date.
"The community that has blossomed since the launch of Kinect for Xbox 360 in November shows the breadth of invention and depth of imagination possible when people have access to ground-breaking technology," writes Microsoft's Steve Clayton, on the the Official Microsoft Blog.
"Already, researchers, academics and enthusiasts are thinking through what’s next in natural and intuitive technology. For example... students at the University of Washington’s Biorobotics Lab are using Kinect with a commercially available PHANTOM Omni Haptic Device to explore how robotic surgery could be enhanced by incorporating the sense of feel."
Microsoft sold eight million Kinect units in the device's first two months on sale.
This article originally appeared at pcpro.co.uk