Microsoft Unknowingly Revolutionizes

Microsoft Unknowingly Revolutionizes the 3D Imaging Industry [Kinect]

Being the bleeding edge technology geeks that we are here at SCANable, we have been closely following Microsoft’s adoption of Israeli developer PrimeSense’s controller-less motion capture technology which interprets 3D scene information from a continuously-projected infrared structured light. Now released as the Kinect for Xbox 360, or simply Kinect (originally known by the code name Project Natal), defined as a “controller-free gaming and entertainment experience” by Microsoft for the Xbox 360 video game platform, and may later be officially supported by PCs. 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 using gestures, spoken commands, or presented objects and images. The project is aimed at broadening the Xbox 360’s audience beyond its typical gamer base. Kinect competes with the Wii Remote with Wii MotionPlus and PlayStation Move motion control systems for the Wii and PlayStation 3 home consoles, respectively.

Weeks before the Kinect was officially released, the hacking community was hard at work digging through this revolutionary hardware in order to test the true limits of its capabilities. There was even a bounty of $3,000 offered by development company “Adafruit” to obtain an open-source driver. A mere two days after the bounty was announced, that goal had already been reached — this according to an email Adafruit’s Phillip Torrone sent Gizmodo. Drivers have been available for Mac and Linux for a couple of weeks, but there are now working drivers for Windows for which we have successfully tested here at SCANable. Our early assessment has indicated that this inexpensive device is actually capable of  much more than just a game controller. To our amazement, we discovered that it continuously captures 3d point cloud data of everything in your living room/game room. By tapping into the Kinect with a PC (Mac, Linux or Windows), we were able to gain full access to this multi-purpose 4-dimensional data with the ability to freely move around the feed in real-time. Using the OpenKinect drivers and basic viewing software, we were even able to set cut-planes which gave us the ability to isolate the moving object in the scene and view this data as colored depth ranges or true RGB color generated by the units embedded camera.

Kinect drivers for Windows can be found here.
Drivers for Mac and Linux can be found here.

The possibilities of this technology are tremendous. We see a near future where we can navigate through a point cloud dataset or virtual 3D model using simple hand gestures (see Evoluce’s example below). Imagine being able to digitally record “true” 3D video and having the ability to easily remove data at certain depths instead of by color eliminating typical green screen procedures. Even better, what if you strapped one of these bad boys onto a robotic vacuum and used it to remotely capture 3D data of interior spaces. Think we are crazy? Keep reading…

How does it work?
Wired has a great article about!



We have compiled several of the best videos of the Kinect in-use. Check them out and be sure to post comments below. We all are masters of manipulating point cloud data, let’s pull together our resources and expertise and come up with some great applications for this affordable technology!

Evoluce, one of the leading manufacturers of high-quality multi-touch and gesture computing displays, demonstrates the future of how we interact with our computers.

MIT early experiments with a Microsoft Kinect depth camera on a mobile robot base. Say hello to KinectBot. Is this the indoor mobile mapping solution we have been waiting for?

Kinect-style device used to map the interior of a building:

For the launch of Xbox Kinect in Germany, seeper created an interactive projection mapping. Set at the highly visible Stachus in central Munich, this project attracted hoards of participants. Immersed in the experience, users took part in epic particle ball games, sending fluids shooting three stories high. Together with guests, including Sylvie van der Vaart, we explored the limits of controller free gaming!

Kinect used for real-time lightsaber:

What are your thoughts about this revolutionary device? Be sure to leave your comments and feedback below. Also be sure to check back here over the coming weeks for new updates!

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