UWP apps gain ability to access Kinect data with Windows 10 Anniversary Update improvements

Laurent Giret

While Microsoft has been deemphasizing the Kinect from its Xbox One gaming console over the last years, the motion sensing input device is far from dead as the company will soon allow Windows developers to builds apps that can access data from the sensor. Following the release of a limited developer preview for Kinect on Windows 10 in December, a new post on the Kinect for Windows blog reveals that the Windows 10 anniversary update will help to “bring Kinect for Windows into the Universal Windows Platform (UWP) world.”

According to the blog post, UWP apps today cannot access most of the data from a Kinect sensor (or any third-party sensor) including RGB, infrared (IR), depth data and skeleton data, the last one being very important to Kinect apps. To access this data, Microsoft has already introduced the Windows.Media.Capture.Frames APIs, a set of extensions that provide a unified way for desktop apps and UWP apps to access sensor data (right now, Microsoft explains that the Kinect sensor’s microphone array is already visible to the UWP audio and speech recognition APIs). However, Microsoft explained that unlocking the full power of these APIs and enabling UWP apps to access Kinect will require three additional things:

  • The new Media Capture Frames API that will be available as part of the Windows 10 Anniversary Update this summer, but it’s already available in the Windows 10 SDK preview, build 14332 or newer. These API extensions are device independent. To access IR and depth data, a compatible device and a matching device driver are also required.
  • A matching driver update for Kinect will be available later this spring.
  • To access skeleton data from Kinect, which is delivered through Windows.Media.Capture as a custom stream, a Kinect-specific supplemental SDK is needed, which we plan to release in the second half of 2016.

Microsoft adds that existing Kinect Win32 apps and SDK capabilities will not be affected by this new UWP support. To see a preview of the full capabilities that will be available when the Windows 10 Anniversary SDK and the supplemental Kinect SDK are released to the public this summer, you can watch the following Channel 9 video below:

What do you think about the potential for using Kinect sensor technology in UWP apps?