How Kinect Works: Microsoft Explains the Tech Behind Kinect [Video]

By on March 27, 2011

Microsoft invested million dollars to design and develop a suitable algorithm for its most popular gaming software Kinect for Xbox 360 gaming console. More than 10 million units of Kinect have been sold so far since it launched in November, showing the peak of popularity and acceptance for Kinect technology.

How Kinect Works


Today, the intelligent minds behind the Kinect at Microsoft Research Cambridge and the Xbox Research team have published a paper explaining how the they did it; the whole story of R&D work done to make a dream alive in the form of Microsoft’s Kinect.

A unique combination of Fuzzy Technique and infrared sensors is the basic technology on which Kinect’s skeletal-tracking algorithm works by turning each pixel in an image to a particular body part.

newScientist reports about the working of Kinect in following words;

Each pixel is first evaluated for how well it fits certain features – for example, is the pixel at the top of the body, or the bottom? The score for each feature is then combined with a search through a “randomised decision forest” – essentially a collection of decisions that asks whether a pixel with a particular set of features is likely to fit a particular body part.

The researchers trained the system on a collection of motion capture data. They initially collected around 500,000 frames of data, cataloguing movements such as dancing, kicking and running, then narrowed this down to just 100,000 frames by discarding any that were closer than five centimetres together.

Once the body parts have been identified, the system then calculates the likely location of the joints within each one to build a 3D skeleton. The Xbox runs the algorithm 200 times per second, which is around ten times faster than previous body-recognition techniques, so players can easily be tracked fast enough for their motions to be incorporated in to games.

Now what we can expect from the folks behind the Kinect for Xbox 360? They can do an extreme R&D work to dig out how they possibly increase its accuracy by directly calculating joint positions, to bring body-part recognition to the next level of technology. The next model of Kinect will be more powerful and enriched than current one, indeed.


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