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Microsoft Xbox 360 Kinect FAQ

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Kinect, Microsoft's controller-free gaming system for Xbox 360, hits the shelves today. Unsure what it's all about? Read on...

What is it?

Kinect is a controller-free "entertainment experience" for Xbox 360 that uses a webcam-style peripheral to detect movement, spoken commands, and presented objects and images. Unlike Kinect's competitors - Nintendo's Wii and Sony's PlayStation Move - it has no handheld controller.

Microsoft Kinect

A webcam you say?

The Kinect sensor is a horizontal bar attached to a motorised pivot. Kinect has (from left to right) a depth sensor, RGB camera, and depth projector. The microphone array is hidden inside.

By using these, the sensor provides full-body 3D motion capture, with facial and voice recognition.

The microphone array lets the Xbox 360 utilise acoustic source localisation and ambient noise suppression, which allows for headset-free party chat over Xbox Live.

The depth sensor is made up of an infrared projector and a monochrome CMOS sensor and can apparently see in 3D under any ambient light conditions. The sensing range is adjustable and the Kinect software is capable of calibrating the sensor based on gameplay and the physical environment, including the presence of furniture.

Kinect is based on software developed at Microsoft and range camera technology from developer PrimeSense which interprets 3D scene information from a continuously-projected infrared pattern.

Kinect Joy Ride

Kinect Joy Ride

How many people can play?

Kinect can simultaneously track up to six people, two of which are enabled for motion analysis with feature extraction of 20 joints per player. So basically, two people can simultaneously play, although up to eight can take turns. Of course over Xbox Live, this figure has the potential to be dramatically increased.

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