The futuristic Microsoft Xbox Kinect technology will be opened up to amateur software developers and academics, the company has said.
Kinect, which Microsoft claims is the fastest selling gadget in history, turns the player's body into a game controller. Hackers have already seized the possibilities it offers, demonstrating 3D photography and other new ways of utilising its motion-capture camera.
The company is to release a software development kit in the spring, which will give developers access to the internal workings of the technology.
It will only be available to amateur enthusiasts initially, but Microsoft also says that it is working on a commercial release that will be made available in due course.
The company said that “The intent of releasing a “starter kit” for application developers is to make it easier for academic research and enthusiast communities to create even richer experiences using Kinect technology.”
Users will be given access to “deep Kinect system capabilities such as audio, system APIs, and direct control of the sensor”, the company said.
Although Microsoft’s Windows Phone technology has struggled to make a major new impact for the firm, its presence in home entertainment is growing thanks to Xbox and Kinect. By opening the device to amateur developers, Microsoft hopes that it will be able to harness enthusiasm and garner new ideas.
"As breakthrough technologies like these reach scale, the resulting creativity and invention will open up a whole new world of possibilities for computing," said Craig Mundie, Microsoft's chief research and strategy officer.
The announcement was made during an open day at Microsoft's research centre near Seattle, which emphasised the company’s commitment to so-called “natural user interfaces”.
“Microsoft’s investments in natural user interfaces are vital to our long-term vision of creating computers that are intuitive to use and able to do far more for us,” said Mr Mundie. “The fruits of these research investments are manifesting across many of our products, Kinect for Xbox 360 among them.”