The Kinect for Windows SDK takes advantage of and is dependent upon the specialized components included in all planned versions of the Kinect device. In order to understand the capabilities of the SDK, it is important to first understand the hardware it talks to.
The glossy black case for the Kinect components includes a head as well as a base, as shown in the following Figure
The head is 12 inches by 2.5 inches by 1.5 inches. The attachment between the base and the head is motorized. The case hides an infrared projector, two cameras, four microphones, and a fan.
There is not recommend ever removing the Kinect case. In order to show the internal components. However some body did. On the front of Kinect, from left to right respectively when facing Kinect, you will find the sensors and light source that are used to capture RGB and depth data. To the far left is the infrared light source. Next to this is the LED ready indicator. Next is the color camera used to collect RGB data, and finally,
on the right (toward the center of the Kinect head), is the infrared camera used to capture depth data. The color camera supports a maximum resolution of 1280 x 960 while the depth camera supports a maximum resolution of 640 x 480.
On the underside of Kinect is the microphone array. The microphone array is composed of four different microphones. One is located to the left of the infrared light source. The other three are evenly spaced to the right of the depth camera.
If you bought a Kinect sensor without an Xbox bundle, the Kinect comes with a Y-cable, which extends the USB connector wire on Kinect as well as providing additional power to Kinect. The USB extender is required because the male connector that comes off of Kinect is not a standard USB connector. The additional power is required to run the motors on the Kinect.
If you buy a new Xbox bundled with Kinect, you will likely not have a Y-cable included with your purchase. This is because the newer Xbox consoles have a proprietary female USB connector that works with Kinect as is and does not require additional power for the Kinect servos. This is a problem—and a source of enormous confusion—if you intend to use Kinect for PC development with the Kinect SDK. You will need to purchase the Y-cable separately if you did not get it with your Kinect. It is typically marketed as a Kinect AC Adapter or Kinect Power Source.
Software built using the Kinect SDK will not work without it.
A final piece of interesting Kinect hardware sold by Nyco rather than by Microsoft is called the Kinect Zoom. The base Kinect hardware performs depth recognition between 0.8 and 4 meters. The Kinect Zoom is a set of lenses that fit over Kinect, allowing the Kinect sensor to be used in rooms smaller than the standard dimensions Microsoft recommends. It is particularly appealing for users of the Kinect SDK who might want to use it for specialized functionality such as custom finger tracking logic or productivity tool implementations involving a person sitting down in front of Kinect. From experimentation, it actually turns out to not be very good for playing games, perhaps due to the quality of the lenses.
– Computer with a dual-core, 2.66-GHz or faster processor
– Windows 7–compatible graphics card that supports Microsoft DirectX 9.0c capabilities
– 2 GB of RAM (4 GB or RAM recommended)
– Kinect for Xbox 360 sensor
– Kinect USB power adapter