Microsoft this week revealed that it will issue a non-commercial Windows software development kit (SDK) for its Kinect motion-sensor device, bringing the Xbox 360 add-on to enthusiast developers. According to the software giant, the SDK is a response to a community that has blossomed in the wake of its release of Kinect last fall.

"Already, researchers, academics, and enthusiasts are thinking through what’s next in natural and intuitive technology," Microsoft Blog Editor Steve Clayton wrote in a post Tuesday. "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 health care and education."

The Kinect for Windows SDK will ship this spring as a free download, Clayton noted. It will provide developers access to key parts of the Kinect system, including the audio technology, system application programming interfaces, and direct control of the Kinect sensor itself.

Separately, Microsoft’s Chief Research and Strategy Officer Craig Mundie told reporters that the Kinect was a peek into the future of computing, where natural user interfaces will replace the aging graphical user interface on which today's computing devices still rely. Microsoft has sold approximately 10 million Kinects since the device went on sale in November, giving the company a rare success in the consumer market.