Software giant Microsoft said it plans to release a non-commercial Kinect for Windows software development kit (SDK) this spring.

A software development kit (SDK) is typically a set of development tools that allows for the creation of applications for a certain software package, computer system, video game console, operating system, or similar platform.

Kinect SDK, which will be available as a free download, will be a starter kit for the academic research and enthusiast communities to create rich natural user interfaces using Kinect technology.

The SDK will give users access to deep Kinect system information such as audio, system application-programming interfaces, and direct control of the Kinect sensor.

Microsoft plans to release a commercial version of the SDK at a later date.

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 Craig Mundie, Microsoft's chief research and strategy officer. The fruits of these research investments are manifesting across many of our products, Kinect for Xbox 360 among them.

The Kinect for Windows SDK is being developed and released by Microsoft Research (MSR) in collaboration with Interactive Entertainment Business (IEB).

 The possibilities are endless.  Natural and intuitive technologies such as Kinect can be more than just a great platform for gaming and entertainment.  They open up enormous opportunities across a wide variety of scenarios, including addressing societal issues in areas such as healthcare and education, Steve Clayton said in a blog post.

Kinect for Xbox 360 is a controller-free gaming and entertainment experience by Microsoft for the Xbox 360 video game platform. Kinect enables users to control and interact with the Xbox 360 without the need to touch a game controller, through a natural user interface using gestures and spoken commands.

It is said that the Kinect is capable of simultaneously tracking up to six people, including two active players for motion analysis with a feature extraction of 20 joints per player.