Kinect Hardware

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

Kinect Device

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.

Hardware Requirements:

– 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

A Multitouch Projector You Can Wear From Microsoft

Microsoft Research is on a bit of a roll lately with their future-tech demonstrations. At the end of last month they showed off a Holoflector augmented reality mirror, a physical object sharing projector called Illumishare, and an interactive transparent 3D desktop using Samsung’s transparent OLED.

This week Microsoft has revealed another device for the future, one which looks to be an extension of Carnegie Mellon’s HCI Institute Omnitouch project. What Microsoft have done is to clip a Kinect motion controller and pico projector together, and mount them on your shoulder. The combination of devices produces a projection on any given surface that the user can interact with just like a touchscreen.

Obviously the parts needs to be miniaturized, but this wearable multitouch projector could one day replace the need to actually carry a phone or tablet. Instead, you’d just clip a small device to a shirt pocket or jacket, and project your screen when you need it.

The projector doesn’t just use the Kinect to capture input though, it also helps determine the size of the surface being worked on. If it’s a wall, you may get a 10-inch projection, but if you hold a small notebook up, the image is adjusted to fit within its bounds. That’s both clever and useful if you want what you’re doing to remain a little more private.

And what’s the other benefit of using Kinect? It allows for gestures, so for certain actions you may not even need a display. For example, make a “call someone” gesture, say the name you want to call, and the person’s phone rings.

There’s no plans to bring this to market any time soon, but there’s a lot of potential for this setup to become a future replacement for today’s phones and tablets. It’s also another example of the diversity of Kinect, and the potential it has to form the core of many future Microsoft hardware devices.

How Kinect for Windows Works

Unveiling a new Kinect device specifically for Windows was a surprise. Developers have already been working with an official Microsoft beta SDK for Xbox Kinect units for noncommercial use on Windows machines since June, and unofficially using community-developed open-source drivers long before that.

The new Kinect for Windows devices cost more: $250 against the $100-150 retail for the current Xbox Kinect devices. Kinect for Windows general manager Craig Eisler says that the cost difference is mostly because on Xbox, Kinect is “subsidized by consumers buying a number of Kinect games, subscribing to Xbox Live, and making other transactions associated with the Xbox 360 ecosystem.” Hence the bump—although later this year, Microsoft says it will make Kinect for Windows available to students, educators, schools, libraries and museums for $150, the same price as Kinect for Xbox.

Besides just reading “KINECT” in lieu of “XBOX 360,” Kinect for Windows devices also have different firmware and other features from their Xbox cousins. While Kinect for Xbox was designed to recognize whole bodies from across a room, Kinect for Windows has something called “Near Mode,” allowing its camera “to see objects as close as 50 centimeters in front of the device without losing accuracy or precision, with graceful degradation down to 40 centimeters,” according to Microsoft.

The idea is that commercial developers—big companies you know, like Google, Adobe, Electronic Arts, Autodesk, as well as more obscure companies developing specialized applications for medicine or education—will build applications using voice or gesture recognition specifically for the desktop PC, portable laptops and tablets, or other Windows implementations besides the living room. Used in those contexts, near-range sensitivity matters much more than recognition at a distance.

Kinect then becomes a general-purpose NUI (natural user interface) interface for the PC, where “PC” is broadly construed for the post-Wintel era. Windows 8′s Metro interface is already optimized for touchscreens and touchpads; Kinect turbocharges Windows’ voice capture and adds full-motion gesture and facial recognition to the mix. (The only thing it’s missing—so far—is the ability to track eye movements.)

The Kinect for Windows unit also offers a modified USB connector and better protection against noise and interference. Both tweaks are designed to better incorporate the Kinect hardware to the PC environment—even if the basic hardware looks identical to the original.

At its limit, you could imagine Kinect sensors in other form factors: some designed for portable use, like a handheld souped-up Wiimote, others integrated into all-in-one PCs the way that webcams are now. Microsoft had nothing like this to announce, but SuperSite for Windows blogger Paul Thurrott wondered about it out loud during his keynote livechat with ZDNet’s Mary Jo Foley.

Microsoft’s been talking about expanding the use of natural user interfaces in computing for years, even delivering innovative products like the giant multitouch-powered Surface and incorporating better touch and speech recognition into plain-vanilla Windows. Besides Kinect, though, it’s mostly been an R&D-driven future-of-computing hobby.

Even the phrase “natural user interface” still clings clumsily to Steve Ballmer’s tongue. He can’t communicate enthusiasm for the possibilities of NUIs like Bill Gates is able to—astonishing, considering that Ballmer can fire himself up into an almost-awkwardly over-the-top giddiness about almost anything else that Microsoft does.

Ballmer never thought he’d be in this position—not only porting a gaming peripheral to his beloved Windows machines, or even opening it up for commercial development by other software companies, but owning it, taking control of it, and positioning it as a key component in the future of the company.

Considering that a little over a year ago, Microsoft was threatening to sue and/or prosecute anyone who wanted to develop for Kinect on a PC, it’s a remarkable turnaround.

It’s also remarkable that a company that became a giant by selling its software to consumers and hardware partners is now effectively giving its software away for free—and making its money back by selling its own branded hardware.

The commercial development kit and licenses Microsoft has put together to build Kinect for Windows doesn’t follow the Open Kinect model. Instead, it offers something much more controlled. Developers can’t use open drivers or the cheaper Xbox Kinect for commercial projects. Plus, as the moniker “Kinect for Windows” suggests, they’re required to use it on machines running Windows 7 or 8. Finally, even noncommercial projects—still officially permitted on the Xbox Kinect devices—aren’t licensed to use software other than Microsoft’s official commercial SDK to write code for the Kinect for Windows hardware.

“They were smart to adopt what we were doing and turn it into a business for themselves,” Torrone said of Microsoft. They built the Kinect Accelerator to seed projects. They featured ones they liked on their website, rebranded the widespread adoption of the device “The Kinect Effect.”

“It got away from them for a moment, but they adapted themselves to it and took a leadership position. They had to.”

“VC-40” Previously Named “LyncKin” the Great Idea for A Business Solution

LyncKin is a business-oriented, video-conferencing application aimed at cutting costs of video conferencing, and increasing its productivity. It brings the power of Kinect sensor to control Lync video conferencing.

Imagine what can come out of bringing two giants together to form one solution to match the increasing demands of the business market. As a Microsoft partner, EgyptNetwork were one of the early respondents to Microsoft’s call “Be Part of The Movement” to develop Kinect SDK.

Video conferencing in Lync creates more personal experience that helps people get to know each other better and communicate more effectively. On the other hand, Kinect serves as the media broadcaster integrating video and audio capabilities to run side by side with Lync functionality. LyncKin has a user interface that features Kinect capturing the user’s gestures to control the application remotely to easily select the command that they want to go with. This controlling ability of Kinect makes things easier for the video meeting attendees to have their influence on the video conference in a way that serves the business market needs.

LyncKin takes Kinect from the gaming fantasy world into the business reality by using Kinect sensing technologies to let the user – business person – control Lync video conferencing by using body gesturing and speaking. This controlling ability of Kinect makes things easier for the video conference attendees.

With LyncKin, the user is being the conference  controller, they can perform some activities from their place; by using arm-waving gestures at the camera, and voice commands to perform functions where Kinect sensors detects both movements and voice in very sophisticated ways.

It can help to improve how people interact with co-workers, customers and partners through a more personalized collaboration experience. LyncKin is an optimized conferencing solution that can build voice and video collaboration for Microsoft Lync environments.

User Experience:

LyncKin provides a way to use the natural-user interface capabilities of Kinect in business settings.

A rich user experience and a unified interface make it easy for people to work together effectively and frequently even when time or distance prevents in-person meetings.

LyncKin enables businesses to conduct a video conference while many of attendees are scattered in different places, may be in different countries. Users can also use their body motion capabilities to investigate some shared contents.


During conferences, LyncKin helps users to control the meeting from their places, as it follows:

  • Hands motions can Investigate Lync contacts, select someone to call, start a video conference with them, easily navigate shared meeting contents, and end the call
  • Voice commands can hold, end call, or recognize new meeting attendee.
  • Face recognition for a new meeting attendee and informing others who aren’t in the meeting room textually.

Business Benefits:

  • Add new capability to Lync unified communication tool for more effective collaboration.
  • Reduce cost of video conferencing by using Lync infrastructure.
  • Control Microsoft Lync without need of any additional peripherals.
  • Easily used on thin or rich clients.

You can See a video and download a beta version here

KINECT for Windows

Kinect for Windows consists of the Kinect for Windows hardware and Kinect for Windows SDK, which supports applications built with C++, C#, or Visual Basic by using Microsoft Visual Studio 2010. The newly release Kinect for Windows SDK version 1 offers improved skeletal tracking, enhanced speech recognition, modified API, and the ability to support up to four Kinect for Windows sensors plugged into one computer.

New in the 2012 SDK Release:

  • Commercial Ready:

Installer makes it easy to install Kinect for Windows runtime and driver components for end-user deployments.

  • Raw Sensor Streams:

Enables the depth sensor to see objects as close as 40 centimeters and also communicates more information about depth values outside the range than was previously available. There is also improved synchronization between color and depth, mapping depth to color, and a full frame API.

  • Skeletal Tracking:

Provides more accuracy and skeletal tracking now enables control over which user is being tracked by the sensor.

  • Advanced Speech and Audio Capabilities:

Provide the latest Microsoft Speech components and an updated English Language Pack for improved language recognition accuracy. In addition, the appropriate runtime components are now automatically installed with the runtime installer exe.

  • API Improvements:

Enhances consistency and ease of development. New developers should have a much easier time learning how to develop with Kinect for Windows, and all developers will be more productive.

Commercial Kinect for Windows Sensor:

The newly released Kinect for Windows hardware is optimized for use with computers and devices running Windows 7, Windows 8 developer preview (desktop applications only), and Windows Embedded-based devices. Some of the changes to the hardware include:

  • Near Mode:

Enables the camera to see objects as close as 40 centimeters in front of the device without losing accuracy or precision, with graceful degradation out to 3 meters.

  • Shortening USB cable and small cable:

Ensure reliability across a broad range of computers and improves coexistence with other USB peripherals.

  • Support and software update:

The Kinect for Windows hardware includes a one-year warranty, support, and access to software updates for both speech and human tracking.

  • Hardware Requirements:
  • 32-bit (x86) or 64-bit (x64) processor
  • Dual-core 2.66 GHz or faster processor
  • Dedicated USB 2.0 bus
  • 2 GB RAM
  • OS Requirements:

Requires Windows 7 or Windows Embedded Standard 7

The Kinect for Windows SDK beta can only be used with the Kinect for Xbox 360 hardware. Applications built with this hardware and software are for non-commercial development only. To accommodate existing non-commercial deployments using the SDK beta and the Kinect for Xbox 360 hardware, the beta license is being extended to June 16, 2016. Developers are encouraged to download the Kinect for Windows SDK, which was released February 1, 2012. This SDK provides additional features and updates.

Download the Kinect for Windows SDK beta

Source: Microsoft

Kinect out of the Xbox

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.