by Staff Writers
San Francisco (AFP) June 16, 2011
Microsoft on Thursday began letting software developers imbue computers with voice and motion-sensing technology from its Kinect controller for the Xbox 360 videogame console.
A free Kinect for Windows Software Development Kit opens doors for computer programs enhanced with depth-perception, voice recognition, or gesture controls using the popular console accessory.
"We are looking at taking the Kinect out of the game space a bit and putting it in other spaces," said Halimat Alabi, a developer who attended a 24-hour Kinect coding marathon at Microsoft's headquarters in Redmond, Washington.
The kit was available for download at research.microsoft.com/kinectsdk.
Microsoft last week added YouTube, voice commands, television shows and more to Xbox 360 with Kinect as the hot-selling videogame console matures into an entertainment center for all.
Microsoft ramped up voice capabilities in Kinect to allow Xbox users not only to give commands to in-game characters but to speak Bing searches for games, movies, television shows, music and other entertainment content.
Microsoft has sold more than 10 million of the gesture-sensing Kinect accessories for the Xbox 360 worldwide since they hit the market in November of last year.
Kinect uses a 3D camera and motion recognition software to let people play videogames on the Xbox 360 using natural body movements and voice commands instead of hand-held controllers.
New "body scan" software will let people take their own pictures using Kinect cameras and then convert the images into on-screen or even in-game animated characters, or avatars, with their features and clothing.
Microsoft has expressed a vision of Kinect moving beyond the living room to medical centers, schools and other places where technology to track skeletal movement and recognize voices could be useful.
earlier related report
The distribution agreement will make Warner the first US studio to offer films on demand via television nationwide in China, a huge expanding target market for the struggling US movie industry.
Through the YOU On Demand service, eventually up to 200 million households will be able to access Warner Bros.' new release and catalog films from this summer, the entertainment giant said in a statement.
"China is developing methods for consumers to view movies outside the cinema in a legitimate fashion," said Jim Wuthrich, head of International Home Video and Digital Distribution for Warner Bros.
"Through YOU On Demand's platform, millions of potential consumers will be able to view our films," including for example the latest Harry Potter blockbuster, "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 1," he added.
YOU On Demand will operate under an exclusive 20-year agreement with CCTV-6's pay TV arm China Home Cinema (CHC), in a deal involving Warner Bros Home Entertainment Group's joint venture in China, and YOU On Demand Holdings.
Like other US studios, Warner Bros is grappling with the transformation of its traditional theater-based distribution model in the exploding Internet and cable era, compounded by cheap pirated DVDs.
In addition in China, Hollywood is constrained by rules which limit the number of foreign films released in theaters in China to 20 per year, according to the LA Times, which said there are no quotas on films released via television.
Shane McMahon, YOU On Demand's Chairman and CEO, said: "Our distribution agreement with Warner Bros. marks a historic milestone for our company.
"I'm excited for the millions of Chinese consumers that will be able to experience and enjoy the very best content that Hollywood has to offer through the YOU On Demand platform."
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