Microsoft, which has gradually embraced hackers tinkering with its Kinect motion-sensing video game controller, is now working on a Kinect for PCs.

Ever since Kinect debuted last year, hackers have fiddled with the device to come up with scores of new uses for it, everything from using gestures to navigate a computer's file system to providing visual sensors for robots.

But those hacks relied on a Kinect that is optimized to detect gamers standing several feet away. In a blog post, Craig Eisler, general manager of Kinect for Windows, said the company is shortening the USB cable and adding a dongle so that multiple devices can tap into the same USB port. Microsoft is also updating the firmware on the device to enable the depth camera on the Kinect to see objects as close as 50 centimeters away.

"'Near Mode' will enable a whole new class of 'close up' applications, beyond the living room scenarios for Kinect for Xbox 360," Eisler wrote.

The software giant didn't say when the PC hardware would be available.

Full story: c|net