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By now, almost all the secrets with respect to Microsoft’s Project Natal – now known as Kinect are out. Unlike the rival motion controllers from Sony and Nintendo, Microsoft Kinect works mainly using a software called PrimeSense that detects the user movements with the help of a webcam and projects the same onto the game to track character movements on the screen. JoyStiq had a nice article that describes how the motion controller works in an article back in June this year.
Now, if you are looking to hear directly from the folks who made the system, here is a patent application filed by Microsoft that describes this webcam based technology. In this patent application, that was made public only today, Redmond makes a great description of how the whole system works,
” According to one embodiment, the gestures may be received by, for example, a capture device. For example, the capture device may capture a depth image of a scene. In one embodiment, the capture device may determine whether one or more targets or objects in the scene corresponds to a human target such as the user. To determine whether a target or object in the scene corresponds a human target, each of the targets may be flood filled and compared to a pattern of a human body model. Each target or object that matches the human body model may then be scanned to generate a skeletal model associated therewith. The skeletal model may then be provided to the computing environment such that the computing environment may track the skeletal model, render an avatar associated with the skeletal model, and may determine which controls to perform in an application executing on the computer environment based on, for example, gestures of the user that have been recognized from the skeletal model. A gesture recognizer engine, the architecture of which is described more fully below, is used to determine when a particular gesture has been made by the user. “
The patent application is a great read for those of you eager to look deeper into the technology behind one of Microsoft’s most hyped products in recent times.
Update: Interestingly, Gizmodo has just posted an article that dives deeper into the mechanics of Kinect.