Kinect for Windows Beta 2 Released

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Friday was a big day for the Kinect. Besides it's 1st birthday, there's a new dedicated site,, a new blog, Kinect for Windows Blog, and more importantly for the Gallery, the Kinect for Windows SDK Beta 2 was released!

Kinect for Windows SDK v1.0 Beta 2

The Kinect for Windows SDK includes APIs, sample code, and drivers. Developers can create rich experiences by using Kinect sensor technology on computers running Windows 7 or Windows 8 Developer Preview.

Project Information URL:

Also check out; Rob Relyea: Kinect for Windows SDK Beta 2 Released!

The Kinect for Windows SDK Beta 2 is now available for download! Rob Relyea joins us to give a refresher on what the Kinect SDK can do, and what's new for Beta 2. There are a number of under-the-hood improvements including faster and more accurate skeletal tracking, support for x64, and support for multi-core machines. They've also added a new StatusChanged event to know when a Kinect has been connected, disconnected, or doesn't have enough power, as well as new APIs to better manage using multiple Kinects. Watch for more details!

Here's some snips from the Kinect for Windows SDK Beta 2 ReadMe;

The Microsoft Kinect for Windows SDK provides the native and managed APIs and the tools you need to develop Kinect enabled applications for Windows. Applications that are built using the Kinect SDK can currently run on Windows 7 computers and the September 2011 build of the Windows 8 Developer Preview. Developing Kinect enabled applications is essentially the same as developing other Windows applications, except that this SDK provides support for the features of the Kinect sensor (color images, depth images, audio, skeletal data, etc.).


To install the SDK Beta:

1. Make sure the Kinect device is not plugged in to the USB port on your computer.

2. If you installed any previous Kinect for Windows SDK, uninstall it first. Similarly, you must remove any other drivers for the Kinect device.

3. Close Visual Studio.
Note: You must close Visual Studio before installing the SDK and then restart it after installation to pick up the KINECTSDK_DIR environment variables that the SDK requires.

4. From the download location for the SDK Beta package, double-click the link for your Windows installation: 32-bit or 64-bit.

5. Once the SDK has completed installing successfully, ensure your Kinect device is plugged in to an external power source then plug the Kinect into the PC’s USB port. The drivers will load automatically. Your Kinect should now be working correctly.

6. To run the samples, ensure that the DirectX and Speech prerequisites are installed. They are listed in the previous section.

If the driver is installed correctly:

1. You should see a blinking green LED on the Kinect sensor.

2. The Kinect sensor should appear in Device Manager as the following nodes under “Microsoft Kinect”:
• Microsoft Kinect Audio Array Control
• Microsoft Kinect Camera
• Microsoft Kinect Device

3. The Kinect sensor's microphone array should appear under Sound, Video and Game Controllers in Device Manager as:
• Kinect USB Audio


. Changes in this release

Since the Beta 1 Refresh release, the following changes have been made:

  • Significant improvements to skeletal tracking:
    • Accuracy has been improved overall, resulting in more precise tracking.
    • Skeletal Frame delivery is faster, resulting in reduced latency.
    • Skeletal Tracking is now multi-threaded and can take advantage of multiple CPU cores.
    • When using 2 Kinects, developers can now specify which one is used for skeletal tracking.
  • API support for detecting and managing device status changes, such as device unplugged, device plugged in, power unplugged, etc. Apps can reconnect to the Kinect device after it is plugged in, after the computer returns from suspend, etc. See the Shape Game sample code for the best example.
  • Developers using the audio within WPF no longer need to access the DMO from a separate thread. You can create the KinectAudioSource on the UI thread and simplify your code.
  • The driver, runtime, and SDK work correctly on the Windows 8 Developer Preview for desktop applications.
  • The SDK can be used to build 64-bit applications. Previously, only 32-bit applications could be built.
  • NuiImageBuffer has been replaced by INuiFrameTexture, defined in MSR_NuiImageCamera.h. It is no longer necessary to include the file NuiImageBuffer.h in your project.
  • The SDK install structure and default location have changed. The install location is in the environment variable %KINECTSDK_DIR% which defaults to C:\Program Files\Microsoft SDKs\Kinect\v1.0 Beta2
  • Sample code changes:
    • There are is a new C# sample: KinectAudioDemo.
    • The samples have been updated. Also the C# samples use helpers, KinectWpfViewers, that may be useful in your apps.
    • The samples are now installed to Samples folder of the SDK directory, which defaults to C:\Program Files\Microsoft SDKs\Kinect\v1.0 Beta2\Samples. Unzip the samples file to view the source code. We recommend that you unzip them to somewhere outside of the Program Files directory.
  • Driver and runtime stability and performance improvements, especially for the managed API layer.

Problems and known issues:

  • When extracting the samples from the zip file, the sample source files are by default Read Only. If modifying them in Visual Studio, it will prompt to verify if it is ok to overwrite. In other text editors, to modify them, you may have to first change their file properties to read write.
  • The Kinect for Windows drivers have encountered compatibility problems with certain USB host controllers, such as the Intel 5 Series/3400 Series Chipset USB host controller. On those hubs, you may encounter a problem, such as a Not Ready status, when plugging/unplugging a Kinect. If this happens to you, you may have to restart your app or reboot your computer.

4. Migrating projects from Beta 1

  • After installing this SDK, you should recompile your apps before running them. Existing app binaries are not guaranteed to keep working.
  • To migrate existing C# projects to this SDK, you should remove and re-add the reference to Microsoft.Research.Kinect.dll. To do that, in the Solution Explorer find the Microsoft.Research.Kinect under References, right click it to remove, then right-click on References to Add Reference. Click on the .NET tab to find Microsoft.Research.Kinect.
  • To migrate existing C++ projects to this SDK, the Inc and Lib paths need to be updated to the new locations. Replace $(MSRKINECT)\inc and $(MSRKINECT)\lib with $(KINECTSDK_DIR)\inc and $(KINECTSDK_DIR)\lib\x86 respectively.
  • To convert an existing C++ project to use the 64-bits support enabled in M3, do the same steps as above but use amd64 in the lib path instead of x86, i.e. $(KINECTSDK_DIR)\lib\amd64. You will also have to change any other library paths in your project to point to the 64-bit versions.


Protecting Your Kinect Sensor While Experimenting

1. The Kinect sensor is protected from overheating by a fan, which is controlled by the sensor's firmware and turns off the camera at 90 degrees Celsius (194 degrees Fahrenheit).

2. There is no software interface for applications to control the fan.

Controlling the Sensors

1. All control of the Kinect sensor is through the APIs provided in this SDK Beta.
Caution: If you use any other mechanisms to control the Kinect sensor, you risk the possibility of irreparable damage to the sensor.

2. Warning: The tilt mechanism in the sensor array is not rated for frequent use. You should tilt the Kinect sensor as few times as possible, to minimize wear on the camera and to minimize tilting time. The camera motor is not designed for constant or repetitive movement, and attempts to use it that way may cause degradation of motor function.
In this SDK Beta, calls to NuiCameraSetElevation are limited to 1 per second and a maximum of 15 calls in any 20-second period. If the application exceeds these limits, the function imposes a short lockout period during which any further calls will return one of the following error codes:
The application tried to move the camera more than 15 times within 20 seconds.
The application must wait one second between attempts to move the camera.

3. This SDK Beta does not support selective suspend for power management.

Controlling the Camera Array

1. This SDK Beta allows applications to control camera tilt only, not pan or zoom.

Skeletal Tracking

1. If moving figures are too close to the camera, skeleton tracking can produce unreliable or odd results. The optimal range is approximately 4 to 11 feet (about 1.2 to 3.5 meters).

2. This SDK Beta supports the skeleton tracking pipeline, but does not include support for velocity or rotation.

3. Skeleton tracking supports only two players.

4. If an application specifies depth data only — and not depth with player index — the returned image data contains depth information in the low-order 12 bits of each 16-bit value.

5. If you are using multiple Kinect sensors, skeleton tracking works only on the first device that you Initialize (with the RuntimeOption for skeletal tracking). To switch the device being used to track, uninitialized the old one and initialize the new one. For an example, see the SkeletalViewer-WPF sample.

6. This SDK Beta does not support the following Xbox 360 features:
• Selecting which Skeleton to track – Up to 6 users in the field of view will be reported in the depth stream; of these, 2 users will be actively tracked with skeletal data. The application developer cannot choose which of the 6 users to track actively.
• Initializing ATG simple shaders
• Implementing Picture-in-Picture (PiP)
• Gestures — although you can experiment with using depth streams for gesture-like effects
• Identity


9. Samples

Security Note: The sample code in this SDK Beta is designed to illustrate concepts and may not illustrate the safest coding practices. Microsoft assumes no liability for incidental or consequential damages should the sample code be used for purposes other than as intended.

The SDK Beta includes the following samples:

Skeletal Viewer—Capturing Data with the NUI API (C++ and C#)
The Kinect sensor includes two cameras: one delivers depth information and the other delivers color data. The NUI API enables applications to access and manipulate this data. The SkeletalViewer sample uses the NUI API to render data from the Kinect sensor’s cameras as images on the screen. The managed sample uses WPF to render captured images, and the native application uses DirectX.

ShapeGame—Creating a Game with Audio and Skeletal Tracking (C#)
Displays the tracked skeletons of two players together with shapes falling from the sky. Players can control the shapes by moving and speaking commands.

Audio Capture Raw (C++)
The Kinect sensor’s audio component is a four-element microphone array. The AudioCaptureRaw sample uses the Windows Audio Session API (WASAPI) to capture the raw audio stream from the Kinect sensor’s microphone array and write it to a .wav file.

MicArrayEchoCancellation—Acoustic Echo Cancellation, Beam Forming, and Source Localization (C++)
The primary way for C++ applications to access the Kinect sensor’s microphone array is through the MSRKinectAudio DirectX Media Object (DMO). The MSRKinectAudio DMO supports all standard microphone array functionality, and adds support for beamforming and source localization. The MicArrayEchoCancellation sample shows how to use the KinectAudio DMO as a DirectShow® source to access the Kinect sensor’s microphone array. This sample uses acoustic echo cancellation to record a high-quality audio stream and beamforming and source localization to determine the selected beam and the direction of the sound source.

MFAudioFilter—Media Foundation Audio Filter (C++)
Shows how to capture an audio stream from the Kinect sensor’s microphone array by using the MSRKinectAudio DMO in filter mode in a Windows Media Foundation topology.

RecordAudio—Recording an Audio Stream and Monitoring Direction (C#)
Demonstrates how to capture an audio stream from the Kinect sensor’s microphone array and monitor the currently selected beam and sound source direction.

Speech—Recognizing Voice Commands (C#)
Demonstrates how to use the Kinect sensor’s microphone array with the Microsoft.Speech API to recognize voice commands.

Kinect Audio Demo (C#)
Demonstrates how to capture an audio stream from the Kinect sensor’s microphone array and integrate it with the Microsoft Speech SDK for speech recognition. Also demonstrates visualization of sound wave and sound source direction.

And finally of note and interest for the Gallery, Microsoft has committed to a commercial release of the Kinect for Windows for early next year.

I think the coming year is going to be even more exciting than the last for the Kinect and Kinect for Windows SDK (which is saying allot and setting the bar pretty high! Smiley )

Post Publish Update:

Here's a number of samples and libraries that have been updated for Beta 2;

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