Microsoft launched the Kinect for Windows developer kit program today, giving programmers the chance to pre-order the next version of its motion-tracking peripheral for $399.

The scheme will officially launch in November, providing successful applicants with a pre-release version of the new Kinect and some unique development tools to help them build new and innovative applications.

When Microsoft launched the original Kinect, it became a hotbed of creative and unorthodox mods from the development community. It should therefore come as no surprise that a similar PC-friendly version will be launching next year, following the public release of the Xbox One.

For reference, the current Kinect for Windows costs just over $220 at the moment on Amazon, although given the peripheral is a few years old now a direct price comparison is probably a little unfair.

The new Kinect offers an ultra wide-angle 1080p HD depth camera, which should offer professional recordings and video calls for apps such as Skype, as well as improve its sensitivity and practicality in regular-sized living rooms.

The device captures RGB color video at around 30 frames per second and comes with a few interesting parlor tricks, such as the ability to monitor the user’s heart rate.

It beats the original Kinect on almost every level, making it a far more interesting and useful peripheral for PC users. Applications for the Kinect for Windows developer kit program must be submitted by July 31; successful applicants will be notified in August, before receiving the following items in November:

  • Direct access to the Kinect for Windows engineering team via a private forum and exclusive webcasts
  • Early SDK access (alpha, beta, and any updates along the way to release)
  • Private access to all API and sample documentation
  • A pre-release/alpha sensor
  • A final, released sensor at launch

Image Credit: Microsoft