Behind the scenes, the new Kinect Camera


The rest of this week, we're going to do a mini-series on the new Kinect... First, this story by Alex Wilhelm on the new camera coming in the Kinect.

How Microsoft Built The Cameras In The Upcoming Kinect

Earlier this week I traveled to Microsoft’s Mountain View campus to play with the company’s new Kinect sensor. While there I met with a few of the team’s engineers to discuss how they had built the new device.

Up front, two things: The new Kinect sensor is far cooler than I expected. Also, I touched an Xbox One.

The story of the Kinect device, both its first and second generations, has been a favorite Microsoft narrative for some time, as it fuses its product teams and basic research group in a way that demonstrates the potential synergy between the two.

The new Kinect sensor is a large improvement on its predecessor. Technically it has a larger field of vision, more total pixels, and a higher resolution that allows it to track the wrist of a child at 3.5 meters, Microsoft told me. I didn’t have a kid with me, so I couldn’t verify that directly.

It also contains a number of new vision modes that the end user won’t see, but are useful for developers who want to track the human body more precisely and with less interference. They include a depth mode, an infrared view, and new body modeling tools to track muscle use and body part orientation.


The end result of all of the above is a multi-format data feed for the developer to use in any way they wish. Microsoft spends heavily on the more than 1,000 developers and Ph.D.s that it employs at Microsoft Research who are free to pursue long-term research that isn’t connected to current products. But it does like to share when those lengthy investments lead to knowledge that it applies to commercial devices, such as the Kinect.

What to take from this? Essentially that even before the re-org, Microsoft had at least some functional intra-party collaboration in place. And, that a neat device came out of it.

The next challenge for the team? Make it smaller.

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Image Credit: TechCrunch