Even though the Kinect has been on the market for over a year, Microsoft's motion sensing device is far from old news. In fact, Microsoft announced at this year's Consumer Electronics Show (CES) that the Kinect for Windows hardware and accompanying software is finally arriving at the start of February. There's even an Amazon page for it already.
The only problem is that those already owning a Kinect for the Xbox 360 will not be able to use it on their PC. A new sensor will have to be purchased at $249, but this PC-only one has a new "near mode" that allows the depth camera to see objects as close at 50 centimeters in front of the device without losing accuracy or precision. This will likely help produce a slew of new "close up" applications in the near future.
One new application benefiting is Geomagic's Kinect-to-3D print app, which uses the Kinect sensor to capture a series of points, turning them into a 3D model which can then be printed using a 3D printer. You can see in the demo video below that you can create and print a 3D model of just about anything, including your head.
This reminds me of a video I saw last year (below) that used the Kinect as an art installation, which used custom software and the openKinect and openFrameworks to transform people into 3D-printed action figures. There's also the ridiculously expensive Fabricate Yourself.
Still, Kinect-to-3D is probably easier for the mass market. And if you don't have a 3D printer, then you can use a 3D printing service. Kinect-to-3D is launching at CES 2012 as a part of 3D Systems' new online 3D printing service Cubify, which turns any mobile device, tablet or Kinect device into a digital canvas and brings ideas to life in 3D.
Cubify is also promoting their Cube 3D Printer, which goes for $1,299. But will the more expensive Cube printer be able to compete against the cheaper Thing-O-Matic. And how will the Cubify 3D marketplace do against the already existing Shapeways? Only time will tell.