Microsoft has discontinued its Azure Kinect Developer Kit, representing the second time the technology has been axed. Originally conceived as a peripheral for the Xbox 360, Kinect had a turbulent history, including a controversial pivot to being an optional component for the Xbox One.
In 2019, Microsoft revived Kinect in a new avatar, the Azure Kinect Developer Kit, designed for developers. The tech focused on depth camera and microphone capabilities, but now this too will cease production.
If you already own an Azure Kinect Developer Kit, there's no need for panic. Swati Mehta from Microsoft assures users that their devices can continue functioning "without disruption." The remaining kits will be available for purchase until the end of October or until supplies last.
While the production of the Azure Kinect Developer Kit comes to a close, Microsoft assures that the technology will continue to exist via partnerships. Mehta mentioned Orbbec’s Femto Bolt as an alternative, which uses the same depth camera module found in the Azure Kinect Developer Kit.
The discontinuation brings questions about the future of Kinect technology. While it seems that Microsoft is stepping away from direct manufacturing, their partner ecosystem will continue to offer similar technologies. Could this be a signal for a new direction in gesture and depth sensing technology, or is it the final chapter for Kinect?