Wave Your Hands In The Air: Kinect SDK

Woo, I'm a ghost!
The Kinect for Windows SDK beta is up, and a bright shiny future of PC motion tracking begins! I’m looking forward to “Slumped In A Chair, Twitching A Bit,” novelty pointing games, and other exciting motion-tracking experiences you can have at your PC. Hopefully there will also be a version of that Milo thing where you can make friends with a childish Space Marine.

Relatedly, I’ve posted a video of Kinect running in Unity below, because I really like the visuals. (That’s what I used to illustrate this post.)


  1. db1331 says:

    Finally! The high precision of my gaming mouse has become so cumbersome. I can’t wait to control my games by turning my head left and right and flailing around like a fucking bint.

    • Diziet Sma says:

      +1 for missing the point entirely.

    • frenz0rz says:

      Also +1 for use of the word ‘bint’.

    • LionsPhil says:

      +1 from the Luddite Foundation of Goddamnit Stop With The Useless Gimmicks Already.

      I hope the one good use of this someone finds compensates for the 99% of it intruding elsewhere where a conventional controller would have worked better. (See also: the Wiimote.)

    • Walsh says:

      Or you can look in your goddamn flight sim without having to wear a headset or hat like TrackIR.

    • Vagrant says:

      I just got done playing Child of Eden yesterday on a controller, and I can imagine the game is massively better with a Kinect. The way the motions and arcs of all the targets fan out just made the analog stick feel unnatural and obstructive to the experience.

      Also, this could be awesome for my sim-race cockpit. I sold my trackIR because it was just not convenient to use with the hats, calibrating, reflectors and what-not. Also: Porn games.

    • Bhazor says:


      Turn your head 90 degrees and your characters head turns 90 degrees.
      Except you are now staring out the window.

      Thats the problem with head tracking. Unless you’re abstracting it, it just won’t bally work. If you are abstracting it however (moving your head causes your character to turn his head left for example) then you’re just changing one piece of immersion breaking (pressing a button) for another (performing silly gestures).

    • ADarkHorse says:

      @Bhazor Did you even watch the clip he posted?

      – Also this site is worth a plug just to show off a few things people have done even without the SDK:

    • LionsPhil says:

      Porn games.


      That’s what you (and apparently several other people) are going for here. The one good use of Kinect, you’re telling me, is another Lula 3D title.

    • Wulf says:

      Unlike Lion’s Phil, I find the potential of this interesting. It’s amazing at tracking body motions and anyone who hasn’t seen what it can do must never read the news, not even the RPS news even which has covered Kinect hacks, and thus I suppose knowing nothing leads to never seeing the potential in anything. And that leads to facepalms.

      Really, go and take a look at what some people have done with the Kinect. It might not have a great amount of application for, say, precision things where you’re sniping, but rather in simulations. In a mech or flight game for example, you could play around with imaginary controls. Keep in mind, once again, that the Kinect is very good at tracking movements. So if you’re pretending to pull throttles and push buttons then that’s really impressive.

      For example, in a cockpit you might see your hand hovering over a control panel, you move your hand and the hand in the cockpit moves, too. You push a button and the hand in the cockpit pushes that. You move the hand over to a throttle and make the sort of motion that would imply tugging that lever, and the hand, once again, does the same thing. It could mean that we could have more complicated controls in simulations without requiring a ridiculous keyboard layouts.

      Also, what about those god games? Now you can shape the world like clay with your own hands. It’s been shown that the Kinect can track fingers as well if configured properly, so you could mould the land in front of you like clay. That would make for a very interesting game experience if you could fashion the land in front of you with your own two hands.

      Seems pretty handy to me. …so to speak.

    • skurmedel says:

      Head tracking is scaling your head motion, so you won’t turn your head 90 degrees. You’ll turn it some manner of degrees in real life, and it will scale it in game. It’s mostly very customisable too.

    • psyk says:

      “Head tracking is scaling your head motion, so you won’t turn your head 90 degrees.”

      Those comments are amusing it’s like trackIR never existed.

      Edit to add, TrackIR is around £139.95 and the kinect is around £105.

    • Bhazor says:

      “Head tracking is scaling your head motion, so you won’t turn your head 90 degrees.”

      So you’re trading one abstraction for another. Also if the most exciting part of Kinect you can think of is head tracking you’ve not been paying attention.

    • LionsPhil says:

      How bitchy! But unlike Wulf, I can at least write concise posts.

      I have used one of these, to fly an AR-drone helicopter no less. They are just as fuzzy and imprecise as every EyeToy that has come before them. It was a cute novelty for five minutes and for the all the time after that a plain old joystick would have done the job better.

      The idea of using such a thing for a virtual cockpit is brain-achingly stupid because you will not get a single iota of tactile feedback.

    • Walsh says:

      Unless you’re abstracting it, it just won’t bally work. If you are abstracting it however (moving your head causes your character to turn his head left for example) then you’re just changing one piece of immersion breaking (pressing a button) for another (performing silly gestures).

      You obviously have never used TrackIR. Immersion breaking it is not. You find yourself naturally looking around your airplane during a dogfight and it is far more immersive to move your head to look than it is using a hat stick to move your virtual head.

    • Muzman says:

      The real action isn’t in game controls anyway, it’s in all the other things people can come up with for it (which now that it’s been hacked, they can)
      It is really low res. I was surprised. It wouldn’t have been too hard to make it much higher these days. I suppose they’re thinking longer term than me. If you don’t start with crappy Kinect, you can’t release much better Kinect 2 in a couple of years.

    • playworker says:

      @psyk link to free-track.net :)

    • skurmedel says:

      I am well aware of both TrackIR (I considered buying one myself once), and what Kinect can do. In any case, it’s a useful thing in games like ArmA and flight simulators. You are not trading in anything, it lets you control your view without using the mouse or joystick. Especially with a joystick you usually have just a finicky POV-hat which is less than ideal.

  2. Kaira- says:

    I’ll be awaiting thing like this. Technology be quite fascinating.

    • godgoo says:

      It’s a really nice project but I fail to see how it is faster or more efficient then a mouse, thus it becomes novelty.

  3. Mike says:

    This should be great. I saw a really interesting talk at GaME 2011 about reading in facial expressions and representing them on an ingame avatar. That was assuming only a webcam, and the tech struggled a bit. With a Kinect we could do a lot more. Very exciting.

  4. Shodex says:

    Maybe now I’ll get my Kinect sex game.

    … for novelty purposes, of course.

  5. Nicholololas says:

    Fingers crossed for someone seeing if controlling an RTS with Kinect is worthwhile, or really possible at all. It’s one of the few really cool uses I see for it, especially if they could eventually get it working on consoles. Best case scenario it probably won’t be nearly as effective as mouse and keyboard, but it doesn’t take much to outperform a 360 controller.

    • Walsh says:

      You are going to have a huge problem with gorilla arms. (Look it up) WIth an RTS you will probably need to have your arms outstretched for long periods of time. It’s the same reason why touch screen monitors never really caught on.

    • MDevonB says:

      I’m not really seeing an RTS with this kind of interface. Eye tracking maybe, Surface-style touchscreen definitely. Though you could definitely emulate that with the Kinect. Maybe a somewhat more fluent version of End War?

  6. subedii says:

    Watch video. Play this in the background:

  7. Dana says:

    Today, Kinect ! Tomorrow, Flying Cars !

  8. Petethegoat says:

    That video could be terrifying, in the right context.

  9. GarageGothic says:

    Looking at that screenshot, all I’m thinking is: Let’s have a Star Wars game that freezes YOU in carbonite.

  10. kevb0 says:

    I am pumped. Kinect has been used for awesome things so far, and I’m sure that it will only make better things with an actual SDK. Look at what’s been done in only 5 months link to youtube.com

  11. Inverselaw says:

    This music video was made using kinect cameras.

    link to youtube.com

    Not to film the actual thing but they recorded her and the played the video next to her.

  12. Herzog says:

    Someone should make a tool so that you can use it for Panzer General. This combined with a HD-beamer in my living room would rock! I would only play in uniform !! :o

  13. NaFola says:

    doh, just installed the software before realising I also need the kinect power adaptor before I can plug it in to the PC :(

    Still, it gives me time to decide what I might do with it.

  14. Vinraith says:

    Get back to me after two or three generations of revision and we’ll see if it’s accurate enough to be useful for anything but drunken parties and children’s games.

    • LionsPhil says:

      You might have to wait until we all have cybernetically augmented arms, by which point it would be moot.

      Interfaces where you hold your arms up and out in front of you for long periods, like touchscreens for everyday desktop use, fail to take off for a reason—it’s horrendously bad ergonomically.

  15. povu says:

    Well Japan, you know what to do.

  16. Soon says:

    I think one of the “simple” but most useful things is just using it to recognise your hands on the desk as controllers, and tapping a finger would be a different function per finger, or combination of fingers. The surface of your desk would basically act a bit like a touchscreen. Which can easily become a keyboard or piano, or whatever. Seems like a better interface than waving your arms in the air.

    You could easily customise it too, assigning a coordinate position on the desk to a function, then draw your own keyboard on a piece of paper, or summink.

  17. Zanchito says:

    I’d love a boxing or combat game with a fast, responsive kinect.

    • lamontagne says:

      You say that, but only because you haven’t considered the possibilty of a Leisure Suit Larry sequel.

  18. Reinhardt says:

    I just tried Kinect for the first time a few days ago at a friend’s house, and while it was passably good fun in a group/drunk setting, the latency is way too high for any serious application.

    I’m not sure what causes it, though. I guess it could be the Xbox.

  19. meeper says:

    That’s no ghost, that’s Jim Solo trapped in carbonite!

  20. Walsh says:


  21. Reapy says:

    Love the fact that it can be used as a cheap motion capture device for games. There really is a lot that can be done with this great piece of tech. As was mentioned a tracker IR stand in, or even something to start adding broad sweeping gestures.

    I could see in single player rpgs sweeping my hand in front of the monitor or pointing at things on screen quickly as an alternative interface mode would be great.

    For a mech game for example say I’m piloting the thing around using a joystick and throttle control. While I am in transport, I wave my hand and sweep in a map of the area, point at the screen where i want nav points, point at a button to send them to wingmen. Maybe bring a menu up and tweak my weapon groupings.

    You can do all that with a mouse for sure, but I think the immersion of gesturing at the screen for things like that ala minority report would be pretty cool.

  22. jimjames says:

    Does that mean us PC gamers play novelty clicking games?

  23. kenoxite says:

    That’s a scary video.

  24. Sinnorfin says:

    I thought its something about Han Solo…

  25. MiniMatt says:

    It’s a step on the road to some pretty cool industrial uses too. And military of course. Until the machines take over anyway.