Updated from 12:03 p.m. to include information from IHS analyst in the xx paragraph.
NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Microsoft (MSFT) unveiled the $199, second generation Kinect for Windows v2 , noting the motion-sensing device is available for pre-orders now and available for purchase beginning next week.
Although Microsoft recently unbundled the Kinect from its Xbox One gaming system, the move won't stop Microsoft from marketing a separate version of Kinect device for PCs. Unbundling the device from Microsoft's newest game console should help with lagging game console sales as well as offering updated virtual controls to modern computer tasks.
Go Play Research analyst Billy Pidgeon thinks updating Kinect for Windows will lead to more interesting visual and voice recognition applications and could turn out to be a successful move for Microsoft. "The new Kinect has more accurate camera and microphone hardware and software that will allow developers to access a higher level of control and a wider range of apps," Pidgeon said in an interview.
Microsoft shares were gaining 0.69% to $42.09 in mid-afternoon trading in New York.
Kinect is a high-tech webcam in a box that enables users to control and interact with their console or computer via gestures and spoken commands. It replaces the standard two-handed game controller usually associated with home consoles.
IHS Technology analyst Piers Harding-Rolls believes that Microsoft is looking at industries such as healthcare and education for the Kinect. "In this sense Kinect acts as a strong brand ambassador for Microsoft and gives the company innovation kudos even if it isn't a big seller," Harding-Rolls said in an interview.
The second-generation Kinect for Windows contains improvements similar to what is included in the new Kinect for Xbox One gamer and includes a 1080p camera, a new sensor system and a wider field of view. Developers have been working on the device for the past 8 months. Kinect was originally released as an extra gaming accessory for the Xbox 360 in 2011 and was also included as part of Microsoft's latest Xbox One device. However, last month Microsoft announced it would sell the Xbox One gaming console without the Kinect to help the system better compete with Sony's (SNE) best-selling, lower-priced PlayStation 4.
In a study released in May, research firm IDC predicted that by 2016, Sony's PlayStation 4 will have the largest share of the world market, selling 51 million devices, but Microsoft's decision to sell the Kinect separately may prove fruitful in the future. IDC said Xbox One sales would improve and may even become the console installed-base leader in North America.
Although Sony and Microsoft hadn't release exact figures experts at NPD Group announced in May that game console sales had nearly doubled in the past year. At the time, the PS4 was the top-selling console in the U.S. for the fifth straight month. Both companies introduced their latest-generation game boxes during that time period.
-- Written by Gary Krakow in New York.
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