Microsoft has been gradually enhancing its Kinect for Windows functionality since it debuted just over a year ago. The software maker is now close to releasing the next step: hand gesture recognition. It might sound like basic functionality, but Kinect's hand detection will soon allow app developers to implement features such as pinch-to-zoom in apps thanks to a new handgrip detecting capabilities. An updated SDK, due in the coming weeks, will open this functionality up to pave the way for gestural equivalents of the mouse click.

Microsoft is demonstrating the updated functionality at TechFest this week at the company's headquarters in Redmond. It's fairly significant in Kinect's evolution and in a demonstration I got to look at how you could pan around maps and zoom in using the updated feature. Jetpack Joyride, a casual game available on Windows 8, can also be controlled using the gestures, proving that this mouse click equivalent could be useful in future gaming aspects for Kinect. Microsoft is only releasing this functionality on Kinect for Windows, and a company spokesperson says it has nothing to share on any plans for Xbox at this stage.