Microsoft Kinect

The KINECT is a motion-sensing input device created by Microsoft for use with the Xbox 360, Xbox One, and Windows PCs. The device is based around a webcam-style peripheral, infrared projector, and a tracking microchip, which work together to interpret specific gestures and display the movement of objects in three dimensions. Beyond that the KINECT also uses a multi-array microphone for voice recognition capabilities. The KINECT is capable of simultaneously tracking up to six individuals, including two active players, with a feature extraction of 20 joints per player. KINECT’s various sensors output video at a frame rate of ~9 Hz to 30 Hz depending on resolution. The hardware is capable of projecting resolutions up to 1280×1024.

The KINECT was made commercially available starting on November 4th 2010. Since its release approximately 24 million units have been sold, with 8 million sold in its first 60 days on the market. The device can be purchased from the Microsoft Store, Best Buy, Amazon, Target, etc. and costs anywhere from $99 to $215 before tax. KINECT 2.0 is set to be released over the summer.

The KINECT was originally developed to enhance the gaming experience of Xbox 360 users. It had been called “Xbox 2.0” or the “new Xbox” by many gamers prior to its release. Microsoft released a non-commercial KINECT SDK on June 16, 2011, which would allow developers to build KINECT ready applications. The following year, in March 2012, Microsoft released SDK 1.5, which supported languages from more countries and would be released to nearly 2-dozen more locations.

At this current point in time there are approximately 129 games currently compatible with the KINECT device. These range from Xbox exclusives (like Kinect Adventures) to games that do not actually require the KINECT device for gameplay.

San Diego based company Reflexion Health has been offered physical therapy programs that work in conjunction with the KINECT device since 2012. The product, called Vera, is meant to act as an “interactive and entertaining” patient interface, which patients can use in place of the photocopied handouts many receive describing exercises. Vera coaches patients through their exercises and sends their performance data and other information back to clinicians, which can allow for a better standard of care for post-surgical rehab patients, among others.

In 2012 a team at Microsoft Research Cambridge used the KINECT for Windows hardware and SDK to enable doctors to use simple hand gestures to change, move, or zoom in on CT scans, MRIs, and other medical images. This project has been tested at several hospitals at St. Thomas’ Hospital in Britain. Tests have specifically done by vascular surgeons who have been using the KINECT to gain different views of their patients’ chest area in order to more quickly determine the proper placement for a stent.

The KINECT requires more power than the Xbox 360’s USB ports can supply, which requires the KINECT to combine USB communication with an additional power source. This problem was fixed with the redesigned Xbox 360 S, which has an AUX port capable of powering the KINECT. Older models of the device will still require the power supply cable for use.