PC-specific Kinect hardware in early 2012

New version of Microsoft's camera peripheral optimized for PCs will be able to precisely detect motion as close as 50cm, include shorter USB cable.

Microsoft has been vocal about its plans to foster development of Kinect software for the PC, but the console maker is planning to adapt its motion-sensing hardware to the platform as well. In a post on the Kinect for Windows blog, the company announced that new PC-specific Kinect hardware will launch as part of the Kinect for Windows commercial program.

This is the Xbox 360 Kinect, with its intolerably long USB cord.

The new version of the Kinect hardware is being created in response to requests from developers and customers alike. First and foremost, the PC Kinect will have new firmware featuring "near mode," enabling the device to keep track of objects as close as 50 centimeters away, "with graceful degradation down to 40 centimeters." With the Xbox 360 version of the Kinect, Microsoft advises that players be at least 1.8 meters away from the camera for single-player games, and 2.4 meters away if there are two players.

Beyond the altered space requirements, the PC Kinect hardware will also feature a shorter USB cable, as well as "a small dongle to improve coexistence with other USB peripherals." Microsoft is also pledging developer support for the camera, with continuous updates to the camera's speech and tracking software.

The posting did not address pricing, or whether the "near mode" firmware update would be brought to the Xbox 360 version of Kinect.