There are a number of different types of Kinect® software, ranging from the drivers that allow these devices to interface with gaming systems, to retail and downloadable video games. Kinect® system software is required for these devices to work with Xbox 360™ consoles. This software has to be installed before the Kinect® can be used, as it is responsible for interpreting the various data streams and permitting the use of voice commands and gestures to control the Xbox 360™ dashboard. The other main type of Kinect® software consists of various game titles, which can be either purchased at retail stores or downloaded. A software development kit (SDK) also exists for personal computers (PCs), which has been used to create various types of software primarily for educational and experimental purposes.
The core Kinect® software is sometimes referred to as system software. When a Kinect® is first hooked up to an Xbox 360™ console, this software must be installed through a system update. Basic functions, such as dashboard control, are handled by this system software. It can also be used by a game console in order to interpret sensor data for other purposes, and subsequent updates can actually improve the performance of the Kinect® peripheral. A similar type of software, known as a Kinect® driver, is necessary in order for one of these devices to interface with a PC.
Another category of Kinect® software is made up of the games that these devices are designed to work with. Certain Xbox 360™ games require a Kinect® in order to operate and make extensive use of both motion and voice sensing. Other games use the peripheral as an optional control scheme, while some are not compatible at all. Games that were released prior to the Kinect® fall into the latter category. Some Kinect® game software is downloadable, though most of this software must be purchased at retail stores like other full Xbox 360™ video games.
The Kinect® software development kit allows people to create PC programs that can make use of the motion and voice sensing capabilities of the hardware. This suite of drivers and other code was released so that hobbyists, scholars, and other individuals could create innovate new types of Kinect® software. The Kinect® was designed primarily as a gaming device, but software created for the peripheral has potential applications in education, physical therapy, virtual reality training, and other areas. This software can provide people with a unique way of interacting with computers and performing a variety of different tasks.