Microsoft has announced that it will no longer produce any more Kinect hardware.
A new post on the company’s official mixed reality blog states that it has decided to end production of its latest iteration, the Azure Kinect, and will instead provide the technology to third-party partners so they can sell their own alternatives.
Although the Kinect name is best known among video game players as peripherals for the Xbox 360 and the Xbox One, Microsoft has continued to make a variety of different motion-sensing input devices using the Kinect name.
Its most recent, Azure Kinect, was released in 2019 and was designed mainly for enterprise software and AI use. With a 12 megapixel camera, a time-of-flight depth senser and seven microphones, it’s significantly more advanced than the Xbox One version of Kinect.
“As the needs of our customers and partners evolve, we regularly update our products to best support them,” Microsoft’s statement reads.
“From time to time, this includes introducing new opportunities, as well as retiring products. We have made the decision to end production of Azure Kinect Developer Kit, but this is far from the end of this technology as it will continue to be available through our partner ecosystem.”
The statement goes on to list a number of partners who use various elements of the Kinect technology in their own devices, and also recommends the Femto Bolt by Orbbec as a viable alternative to the Azure Kinect.
Companies who already own an Azure Kinect will still be able to download and use the development software made available for it, and Microsoft will continue selling the devices until the end of October, or until supplies last.
“Thank you for your support and feedback over the years,” the statement ends. “It is amazing what Microsoft and the developer community have been able to achieve together.”
Despite being met with a lukewarm reception in the gaming landscape, the various PC-based iterations of Kinect have continued to enjoy a variety of uses in other fields, including academia and robotics.
In 2022, UK broadcaster Sky launched a range of Sky Glass TVs with integrated Kinect technology, allowing viewers to use motion controls and audio commands to control their TV, as well as use the camera to have video calls with friends and family.
In an interview with Gizmodo in 2018 about the device’s continued life beyond video games, Microsoft’s then-director of communications Greg Sullivan said: “I think one of the things that is beginning to be understood is that Kinect was never really just the gaming peripheral. It was always more.”
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