Microsoft's technical evolution of the Kinect

The work on the Kinect launched at Microsoft after Nintendo 2005 had released their Wii console with the Wii Remote controller. In the actual control but has been since 2003 worked: see History of NUI / Kinect.

The development of the hardware

Were initially 2 Team established, which is based on 2 different technologies should build the Kinect. The technology came from the company 3DV (bought for $ 35 million) and PrimeSense (Israeli an independent research company). In the end only managed the PrimeSense technology, the high demands on technology to accomplish and to build a prototype, the RGB camera, Could infrared sensor and an infrared light sensor contained and render depth data at 30fps. The speed was made possible by, that the depth data were determined using the infrared data in a new way:

Previously The time was measured, which require data, to the sensor to an object and back to the sensor flew. The new technique to determine a pattern of projected red dots on the space and measuring the size and the distance to the depth data.

In the Kinect was a 4-fold integrated microphone array, to perform effectively in large rooms speech recognition can. Microsoft was able to draw on the experience of Windows, contained in the speech recognition since Windows XP.

The development of the software

Based on the hardware first, the problem of the motion-tracking solved. The Kinect development team (Project Natal) Jamie Shotton commissioned the Microsoft Research in Cambridge with the improvement of the first motion-tracking algorithm, had the following disadvantages:

  • The players had to take at the beginning the famous T-pose for calibration
  • the camera lost the occasional user and the system had to be re-calibrated again incl T-Pose
  • it only worked with certain body types, namely with those of the conducting Microsoft developers :)
  • from the silhouette of the user had the body parts and the joints are extracted from it. The joints of the skeleton can then be generated, that uses the Kinect for the movements

The solution: It was used computer learning software and fed a movement with tons of data, u.a. aus Hollywoods Motion Capture Studios. This resulted in a decision tree, which could see the joints.

A further highlight is the American Speech Recognition, that can deal with various American accents and was created with the help of computer learning.

The Kinect is finally on 26.9.2010 published, 3 Years after the actual release date at E3 2007. In the first 60 Days, an average of 133.000 Units sold pro Tag whereby the Kinect appears before the iPhone and iPad in the Guinness Book of Records.

Read more: The technical history of the Xbox Kinect and NUI or Kinect SDK Tutorial Installation unter Windows 7

The technical history of the Xbox Kinect and NUI

See also Microsoft's technical evolution of the Kinect


In the later 70s, Chris Schmandt developed at MIT's first project with language- and gesture recognition for operating graphical user interfaces called “Put-That-There”. The user had to create a magnetic dice on the wrist and a head-mounted microphone.

His scientific work on “Put-That-There” can here read.


Late 90s Mark Lucente developed a user interface for IBM, which did without reference objects such as pins or gloves and recognized the gestures of the user. The project was so visionary, that it was designed as an alternative for mouse and keyboard.

Minority Report

In the Hollywood movie with Tom Cruise 2002 is seen for the first time a Kinect-like controller, which could have been considered at the time as science fiction and for us not so difficult to imagine. As scientific advisers had Steven Spielberg John Under suitcase committed by MIT. Perhaps not so coincidentally Microsoft began a year later (2003) with the development of technology Kinect.

The Minority Report showed the possibilities of the New User Interface(NUI) one of the first productions from. This makes the film a similar pioneering as the Star Trek series, The e.g.. automatically opening doors or folding phones (Captain Kirk’s Communicator) “invented”.

Of particular interest to the following excerpt from Minority Report:

  • the Kalibrieung the user interface with a T-like movement (Video 1:26)
  • the pitfalls of this technique in the wrong movement (Video 1:46)
  • the hand gestures, reminiscent already at the Kinect control at a time, was not even on the work on the development of Kinect

Read more: Microsoft's technical evolution of the Kinect or Kinect SDK Tutorial Installation unter Windows 7

from the book:

Kinect SDK Tutorial Installation unter Windows 7

The gesture recognition Xbox Kinect under Windows In order to use, can see the Kinect connect to their PC and interact. A Kinect Quickstart Microsoft's video collection it here.

It is mandatory Windows 7 or Windows Embedded Standard 7 necessary for the Kinect Camera and at least dual-Core 2.66-GHz CPU and 2 GB Ram and of course, a USB 2.0 slot. It runs on 32bit and 64bit processors.

Software is technically mandatory DirectX9.0c Distress, other versions are not (down) compatible.

On Kinect Cameras are 2 Versions, normal “Xbox 360″ Version and a “Kinect for Windows“- Professional Version (Price currently: 200€ at Amazon).

The advantages of Kinect for Windows to Xbox Kinect

  • Near-mode“, with the one from a distance of 40cm data min (1.3 feet)can receive, d.h. from a normal PC workstation removal. Standard Kinect works recommended dimensions for a distance of 2m to the (1,8m – 3m, depending on the number of persons)
  • Significantly improved detection of individual persons
  • Control, that person will be tracked by the sensor
  • To Use and Start of commercial software (except Xbox games) you need the professional version, to Develop enough, however, the console variant.
  • supports up to four Kinect sensors per computer
  • improved speech recognition

One can distinguish the versions of the lettering on the device: normal “XBOX 360″ rechts frontal, Professional-Near Version: “Kinect“.

Kinect for Windows:

normal Xbox Kinect Kauf Variants:

An interesting extension to the standard-Kinect is the Kinect Zoom Weitwinkel-Linse. Thus can also remove 0,8 realized up to 4m for a low price. The quality is not very good for games, But programs for the lens can be quite recommendable be.

Unfortunately, when purchased will be delivered at some time ago consoles not necessarily a USB port, so it must be possible as her first one adapter. This can either Bought or adventurously itself built will.