The Technology Behind the Microsoft xBox Kinect Motion Control System

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Wow, I am impressed with the technology behind Microsoft’s xBox Kinect motion control system. When I first heard that Microsoft was making the user the controller of their xBox 360 video game console, I thought they meant simple hand gestures. I didn’t realize their system would be able to track the entire body. Normally, a full-body tracking system requires the user to wear a body suit with sensors. Instead, Kinect uses 3D-sensing technology from PrimeSense to track movement.

PrimeSense light coding process

The PrimeSense technology, called PrimeSensor, enables the xBox to perceive the gamer’s environment in three-dimensions and to translate these perceptions into a synchronized depth image. The PrimeSensor solutions consists of a chip (PrimeSense PS1080 SoC), 3D depth sensors (IR light source and CMOS image sensor), and a RGB camera (color image sensor). The PrimeSense PS1080 SoC acquires the depth image by directing invisible infrared light at the players. The CMOS image sensor then reads the coded light back from the scene. After the light coding, the PrimeSense PS1080 SoC uses a special algorithm to process the data from the CMOS sensor to create an accurate per-frame depth image of the scene.

PrimeSensor Block Diagram ~ PrimeSense

All sensory information (depth image, color image and audio) is then transferred to the xBox 360 console, which then uses software created by Microsoft to match a player’s avatar with the images from the camera.

Microsoft xBox 360 Kinect sensor

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