Wire Free Xbox Kinect – Technical Details
The Kinect motion sensing addition for the Xbox 360 games console (originally known as Project Natal) is an add-on unit that enables gamers to control and interact with the console by just using gestures, body movements and spoken commands without the need to use a traditional game controller. The technology takes its inspiration from Nintendo’s Wii Remote and Wii MotionPlus system. Sony is also planning to equip its PS3 with a similar system in the form of the PlayStation Move system.
Kinect Launch Date
Kinect is due to be released on 4 November 2010 and will be able to be purchased either on its own or bundled with a console and game package.
Kinect Technical Details
The Kinect unit is in the form of a horizontal bar connected to a base via a motorized pivot. The unit is positioned below the TV screen or monitor much like the Wii Sensor bar would be. Integrated into the unit is an RGB camera, depth sensor (using an infrared projector and a monochrome CMOS sensor) and multi-array technology microphone. These items work in conjunction with Microsoft’s software to achieve full-body 3D motion capture, facial recognition and voice recognition. The free Xbox Kinect software automatically calibrates the hardware taking into consideration the game in use and the physical environment (walls, furniture, other equipment, etc). The software is capable of tracking up to six people simultaneously.
The processing of the information gathered by the Kinect unit is handled by one of the Xbox 360’s Xenon CPU cores. It is said that the additional load of dealing with the Kinect data will take up between ten and fifteen percent of the 360’s available processing power.
Due to language difficulties, the voice recognition system will only be available in the United Kingdom, United States and Japan at the launch date, with other territories being delayed until early 2011.
The Kinect software was developed by Microsoft with Israeli developer PrimeSense bringing in their expertise for the implementation of the 3D range camera technology. The Kinect software requires around 175 MB of storage space and will therefore require an Xbox 360 with an integrated hard drive of sufficient capacity.
The Kinect sensor has a range of between 1.2 and 3.5 metres (or 3.9-11 ft) and an angular range of 57 degrees horizontally and 43 degrees vertically. In addition to this, the range can be adjusted by the integrated motor tilting the sensor up to an additional 27 degrees up or down.
Kinect Power Supply
Thanks to the use of an integrated motor, the power supplied by the Xbox 360’s USB bus is not sufficient. To get around this the Kinect introduces a bespoke connector that combines communication and power at the Kinect end and splits into separate USB and AC power at the other (this is included free with the Kinect retail package). Future versions of the games console, dubbed Xbox 360 S, include an additional AUX port for the Kinect device that caters for both communication and power.