As we continue the march toward the upcoming launch of Kinect for Windows v2, we’re excited to share the hardware’s final look.
The sensor closely resembles the Kinect for Xbox One, except that it says “Kinect” on the top panel, and the Xbox Nexus—the stylized green “x”—has been changed to a simple, more understated power indicator:
Kinect for Windows v2 sensor
Hub and power supplyThe sensor requires a couple other components to work: the hub and the power supply. Tying everything together is the hub (top item pictured below), which accepts three connections: the sensor, USB 3.0 output to PC, and power. The power supply (bottom item pictured below) does just what its name implies: it supplies all the power the sensor requires to operate. The power cables will vary by country or region, but the power supply itself supports voltages from 100–240 volts.
Kinect for Windows v2 hub (top) and power supply (bottom)
As this first look at the Kinect for Windows v2 hardware indicates, we're getting closer and closer to launch. So stay tuned for more updates on the next generation of Kinect for Windows.
Kinect for Windows Team
Ever wish you looked like someone else? Maybe Brad Pitt or Jennifer Lawrence? Well, just get Brad or Jennifer in the same room with you, turn on the Kinect for Windows v2 sensor, and presto: you can swap your mug for theirs (and vice versa, of course). Don’t believe it? Then take a look at this cool video from Apache, in which two developers happily trade faces.
Swapping faces in real time—let the good times roll
According to Adam Vahed, managing director at Apache, the ability of the Kinect for Windows v2 sensor and SDK to track multiple bodies was essential to this project, as the solution needed to track the head position of both users. In fact, Adam rates the ability to perform full-skeletal tracking of multiple bodies as the Kinect for Windows v2 sensor’s most exciting feature, observing that it “opens up so many possibilities for shared experiences and greater levels of game play in the experiences we create.”
Adam admits that the face swap demo was done mostly for fun. That said, he also notes that “the ability to identify and capture a person’s face in real time could be very useful for entertainment-based experiences—for instance, putting your face onto a 3D character that can be driven by your own movements.”
Adam also stressed the value of the higher definition color feed in the v2 sensor, noting that Apache’s developers directly manipulated this feed in the face swap demo in order to achieve the desired effect. He finds the new color feed provides the definition necessary for full-screen augmented-reality experiences, something that wasn’t possible with the original Kinect for Windows sensor.
Above all, Adam encourages other developers to dive in with the Kinect for Windows v2 sensor and SDK—to load the samples and play around with the capabilities. He adds that the forums are a great source of inspiration as well as information, and he advises developers “to take a look at what other people are doing and see if you can do something different or better—or both!”
The Kinect for Windows Team
Ever wonder what you’d look like drenched in gold? December shoppers in Manhattan were captivated by just such images when they paused before an innovative window display for the new men’s cologne Gold Jay Z at Macy’s flagship store in Herald Square. This innovative, engaging display, the creation of advertising agency kbs+ and interactive design firm Future Colossal, employed Kinect for Windows to capture images of window shoppers and flow liquid gold over their silhouettes.
Window shoppers found it hard to resist creating a gold-clad avatar.
The experience began when the Kinect for Windows sensor detected that a passer-by had engaged with the display, which showed liquid gold rippling and flowing across a high-resolution screen. The Kinect for Windows sensor then captured a 3D image of the shopper, which artfully emerged from the pool of flowing gold to appear as a silhouette draped in the precious metal. This golden avatar interactively followed the window shopper’s movements, creating a beautiful, sinuous tableau that pulled the passer-by into an immersive experience with the fragrance brand. The Kinect for Windows also provided the shopper a photo of his or her golden doppelganger and a hashtag for sharing it via social media.
A few months ago, Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP) James Ashley, a leader in developing with Kinect for Windows, wrote a very perceptive blog about Kinect for Windows v2 entitled, Kinect for Windows v2 First Look. James’ blog was so insightful that we wanted to check in with him after being in the Developer Preview program for three months and learn more about his experiences with the preview sensor and his advice to fellow Kinect for Windows developers. Here’s our Q&A with James:
Microsoft: As a participant in the developer preview program, what cool things have you been doing with the Kinect for Windows v2 sensor and SDK over the past few months? Which features have you used, and what did you do with them?
James: My advanced technology group at Razorfish has been very interested in developing mixed-media and mixed-technology stories with the Kinect for Windows v2 sensor. We recently did a proof- of-concept digital store with the Windows 8 team for the National Retail Federation (aka “Retail’s BIG Show”) in New York. You've heard of pop-up stores? We took this a step further by pre-loading a shipping container with digital screens, high-lumen projectors, massive arrays of Microsoft Surface tablets, and Perceptive Pixel displays and having a tractor-trailer deposit it in the Javits Center in New York City. When you opened the container, you had an instant retail store. We used the Kinect for Windows v2 sensor and SDK to drive an interactive soccer game built in Unity’s 3D toolset, in which 3D soccer avatars were controlled by the player's full body movements: when you won a game, a signal was sent by using Arduino components to drop a drink from a vending machine.
Watch the teaser for Razorfish's interactive soccer game
We also used Kinect for Windows v2 to allow people to take pictures with digital items they designed on the Perceptive Pixel. We then dropped a beach scene they selected into the background of the picture, which was printed out on the spot as well as emailed and pushed to their social networks if they wanted. In creating this experience, the new time-of-flight depth camera in Kinect for Windows v2 proved to be leagues better than anything we were able to do with the original Kinect for Windows sensor; we were thrilled with how well it worked. [Editor’s note: You can learn more about these retail applications in this blog post.]Much closer to the hardware, we have also been working with a client on using Kinect for Windows v2 to do precise measurements, to see if the Kinect for Windows v2 sensor can be used in retail to help people get fitted precisely—for instance with clothing and other wearables. Kinect for Windows v2 promises accuracy of 2.5 cm at even 4 meters, so this is totally feasible and could transform how we shop.Microsoft: Which features do you find the most useful and/or the most exciting, and why?James: Right now, I'm most interested in the depth camera. It has a much higher resolution than some standard time-of-flight cameras currently selling for $8,000 or $9,000. Even though the Kinect for Windows v2 final pricing hasn't been announced yet, we can expect it to be much, much less than that. It's stunning that Microsoft was able to pull off this technical feat, providing both improved quality and improved value in one stroke. Microsoft: Have you heard from other developers, and if so, what are they saying about your applications and/or their impressions of Kinect for Windows v2?James: I'm on both the MVP list and the developer preview program's internal list, so I've had a chance to hear a lot of really great feedback. Basically, we all had to learn a lot of tricks to make things work the way we wanted with the original Kinect for Windows. With v2, it feels like we are finally getting all the hardware performance we've wanted and then some. Of course, the SDK is still under development and we're obviously still early on with the preview program. People need to be patient. Microsoft: Any words of advice or encouragement for other developers about using Kinect for Widows v2?James: If you are a C# developer and you haven't made the plunge, now is a good time to start learning Visual C++. All of the powerful interaction and visually intensive things you might want to do are taking advantage of C++ libraries like Cinder, openFrameworks, PCL, and OpenCV. It requires being willing to feel stupid again for about six months, but at the end of that time, you'll be glad you made the effort.
Our thanks to James for taking time to share his insights and experience with us. And as mentioned at the top of this post, you should definitely read James’ Kinect for Windows v2 First Look blog.