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Microsoft Kinect SDK coming for business apps: News in brief

Kinect, Xbox 360’s motion-sensing technology, will be available for business application developers next year. Plus: news on HP’s latest tablet and AT&T’s LTE phones.

Microsoft Kinect isn’t just for dancing up a storm, doing yoga or punching out bad guys anymore.

The popular motion-sensing technology for Microsoft’s Xbox 360 video game console will soon be available for building business, research and academic applications on Windows. The company said it will start selling a commercial version of its Kinect software development kit (SDK) in 2012, the Financial Times reported.

Microsoft has already been working with 200 businesses on a pilot program, and an Xbox director told the newspaper that “12 months from now, educational, academic and commercial applications will look nothing like what they are today.” These applications will surely generate a buzz, but if they don’t provide actual business value, they’ll be little more than a novelty.

The Kinect SDK for Windows is part of Microsoft’s strategy for bridging the gap between its consumer products, such as Xbox and Skype, and its enterprise software.

‘HP Slate 2: The Stylus Strikes Back’

Hewlett-Packard isn’t letting the TouchPad’s spectacular failure stop its efforts in the tablet market.

The company this week announced the HP Slate 2, a Windows 7 tablet that offers a multitouch screen, Swype keyboard and, for all you pen lovers out there, a stylus. The HP Slate 2 also features an Intel Atom Z670 processor and up to six hours of battery life, and it weighs 1.5 pounds -- just slightly more than the iPad 2.

Demand will likely be low, given the whole TouchPad debacle and next year’s anticipated arrival of Windows 8. The Slate 2 also raises questions about HP’s tablet strategy, namely, “What’s the deal with WebOS?”

HP is slated (get it?) to release the new tablet later this month, and it will cost $699.

AT&T gets down with LTE

The first AT&T LTE smartphones will hit the market next week.

The HTC Vivid and the brevity-be-damned Samsung Galaxy S II Skyrocket will be able to run on AT&T’s Long Term Evolution (LTE) network, which promises faster and more consistent data speeds than traditional 3G networks. If you’re eyeing one of these smartphones, be warned: The AT&T LTE network is available in only nine U.S. markets, although the company plans to expand to 15 by the end of the year.

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