Kinect for Xbox 360, or simply Kinect (originally known by the Code Name Project Natal),is a Motion Sensing Input Device by Microsoft for the Xbox 360 Video Game Console. Based around a webcam style add-on peripheral for the Xbox 360 console, it enables users to control and interact with the Xbox 360 without the need to touch a game controller, through a Natural User Interface NUI using gestures and spoken commands. The project is aimed at broadening the Xbox 360’s audience beyond its typical gamer base. Kinect competes with the Wii Remote Plus and PlayStation Move with PlayStation Eye Motion Controllers for the Wii and PlayStation 3 home consoles, respectively.
After selling a total of 8 million units in its first 60 days, the Kinect holds the Guinness World Record of being the “fastest selling consumer electronics device”.
Microsoft released a non-commercial Kinect Software Development Kit SDK for Windows on June 16, 2011, with a commercial version following at a later date. This SDK will allow .Net developers to write Kinecting apps in C++/CLI, C# or VB.NET.
Kinect is based on software technology developed internally by Rare, a subsidiary of Microsoft Game Studios owned by Microsoft, and on range camera technology, which developed a system that can interpret specific gestures, making completely hands-free control of electronic devices possible by using an infrared projector and camera and a special microchip to track the movement of objects and individuals in three dimension. This 3D Scanner system called Light Coding employs a variant of image-based 3D reconstruction.
The Kinect sensor is a horizontal bar connected to a small base with a motorized pivot and is designed to be positioned lengthwise above or below the video display. The device features an “RGB camera, depth sensor and Multi-Array Microphone running proprietary software”, which provide full-body 3D Motion Capture, Facial Recognition and Voice Recognition capabilities. At launch, voice recognition was only made available in Japan, the United Kingdom, Canada and the United States. Mainland Europe will receive the feature in spring 2011. The Kinect sensor’s microphone array enables the Xbox 360 to conduct Acoustic Source Localization and Ambient Noise Suppression , allowing for things such as headset-free party chat over Xbox Live.
The depth sensor consists of an infrared laser projector combined with a monochrome CMOS Sensor , which captures video data in 3D under anyambient light conditions. The sensing range of the depth sensor is adjustable, and the Kinect software is capable of automatically calibrating the sensor based on gameplay and the player’s physical environment, accommodating for the presence of furniture or other obstacles.
Described by Microsoft personnel as the primary innovation of Kinect,the software technology enables advanced gesture recognition , facial recognition and voice recognition. According to information supplied to retailers, Kinect is capable of simultaneously tracking up to six people, including two active players for motion analysis with a feature extraction of 20 joints per player. However, PrimeSense has stated that the number of people the device can “see” (but not process as players) is only limited by how many will fit in the field-of-view of the camera.