How Kinect Tracks User Movements – Hack Reveals Monochromatic Images

A while back, we had written an article detailing how the Kinect works. Those details were taken from a patent application that Microsoft had filed with the United States Patent and Trademark office. Now, while we know that the Kinect tracks user movements using a webcam, we have until not seen how Kinect “sees” things (Click here for a slideshow of all the latest Kinect news stories) .

Now, thanks a hacker, we can see how Kinect tracks movements from its end. The hacker has been able to break into the Kinect code to extract monochromatic images of data that is received by Kinect and has managed to export these video streams to a computer.

The hacker is reportedly the same person who successfully hacked the PlayStation Eye back in 2008. We are not sure if the source code of this application shall be released anytime soon. But with the system being hacked just three days post the launch of the device in the US, this is a job well done.

Microsoft Kinect Facial Recognition Problem For Dark-Skinned Users

Does Microsoft Kinect have a problem in identifying dark skinned users? A few reviews from early adopters show that Kinect – the new webcam based motion controller for XBox 360 – may not be correctly identifying the facial patterns on dark skinned users.

At the outset, this does not seem to be a major issue. If you are a dark skinned user (possibly includes blacks, hispanics and Asians – non-Caucasian, basically), then the only area where you may hit trouble is in getting Kinect to automatically sign you in. Instead the user may have to manually login. The motion controls during gaming do not seem to be affected. Nevertheless, it is likely that Microsoft may issue a software update to the Xbox system to rectify this issue (For other recent updates on the Kinect front, click here).

Have you purchased Kinect motion controller? Do let us know if you see the issue on your gaming system.

Microsoft Kinect “Update Failed” Error For Early Adopters

Microsoft Kinect does not launch until November 4 in the United States. But a select few customers who have already received their goods ahead of the launch day are complaining that they are noticing an error while updating the software. Users connecting the new Kinect to their XBox are prompted with a message that says that an update is required. Apparently, the update file being pushed is not the latest version and misses key components thereby temporarily making access to XBox Live unavailable.

In a statement acknowledging the issue, Microsoft has noted,

“Due to a retailer error, a very small number of customers were shipped copies of a Kinect game ahead of launch. Since Kinect does not launch until Nov. 4 in the United States, customers who insert the game into their console before then will be temporarily unable to access Xbox LIVE. The retailer is contacting affected individuals directly to warn them of this situation.”

[via Joystiq]

Soon Operate Sky Player On XBox 360 Without Remote Control

If you are a regular viewer of Sky Player – the online TV service from Sky – on Microsoft XBox 360, you will soon be able to operate the service without a remote control using just gestures. ElectricPig reports that Microsoft’s upcoming camera-based motion controller technology could actually expand its functionality to be used as a gesture-based remote control system. That will mean users can make use of Sky Player’s integration with Microsoft Kinect to use gestures to play, rewind, fast-forward or pause television progams besides also using more gestures to change channels or pick on-demand content.

This is not completely surprising considering Microsoft’s Kinect patent that demonstrated the multiple use-cases of gesture controls. However, I wonder if it is actually making things more complex to the user. Regular remote controls solve the purpose way better than any Minority Report like gesture controls.

Microsoft Kinect Pre-Orders Overwhelming – Will Blow Away iPad?!

The two may not be in the same segment of business, but this definitely makes for a good headline. According to Kudo Tsunoda, the manager of Microsoft Game Studios, the preorders for Microsoft’s upcoming camera-based motion controller have been pretty strong – strong enough to “blow away” the sale of iPads. Tsunoda says,

“As far as what we’re looking at for Holiday, this is going to be stuff that’ll blow away any of the sales you’ve seen with iPad… The Xbox 360 is already selling better than the Wii and Sony right now. Kinect’s really just going to boost that to a whole new level.”

For a perspective, Apple sold its 1 millionth iPad 28 days after launch. The 3 millionth purchase came within the first three months. Will Kinect connect with people the same way? That’s a bit of a lottery at the moment, but listening to Tsunoda, investors may demand that it better be the case.

New Microsoft XBox 360 Kinect Dashboard Revealed

Microsoft is on to something big with respect to the gaming segment with the launch of the new webcam based motion controller, Kinect. While they are at it, it looks like the company is building a lot of other interesting things as well. We have just got hold of what looks like the new XBox 360 dashboard interface that could be available to gamers pretty soon. As you can see from the video, the interface is more seamless and uncluttered though Microsoft has retained the existing look-and-feel.

This is of course just a minor improvement when you consider the bigger things that Microsoft is up to. But for gamers, this is definitely something to look forward to. There is no word on when exactly this new design is set to make it to the consoles, but there are indications that we may be seeing it before the end of this year. Possibly, along with the launch of Kinect in November.

250GB XBox 360 With Kinect – Price And Launch Date Officially Revealed

After weeks of speculations, Microsoft has finally made its announcement regarding its launch plans for the upcoming XBox 360 hardware bundle that will include the much anticipated Kinect camera-based motion controller system. According to the announcement, the new Microsoft XBox 360 bundle will launch at a price of $399 in the USA starting November 4th of this year. No word on how the pre-orders and online ordering will happen.

Now, if you are in the UK, you will have to pay £300 for this new gaming console bundle. Also, the launch is going to be deferred by close to a week as Microsoft says that the UK launch will happen on the 10th of November. In Japan, the launch will happen on November 20 at a price of 14,800 yen ($177). People elsewhere, wait for an official release in your countries.

So what will you get for that price? As noted by Microsoft, customers will receive a 250GB XBox 360 S console, a Kinect motion-control camera and their copy of the Kinect Adventures. Apparently, the bundle will also include a copy of a new brain training game called “New Brain Training: Answer With Your Body“. You can check out a demo of these games in the videos below.

How Microsoft Kinect Works

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. “

Microsoft Kinect

Microsoft Kinect

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.

Microsoft XBox 360 4GB Price Officially Announced

There were rumors last week that had suggested that Microsoft could soon be launching a 4GB version of their popular gaming console. The company has now confirmed these rumors and has revealed that this shall be a replacement to the Microsoft XBox 360 Arcade.

As announced, the new XBox 360 4G version will launch on August 3 in the US market at a price of $199. The device is also expected to be offered as a bundle along with the Kinect sensor during the holiday season for a price of $299.99. The Kinect sensor will independently retail at $149.99 when it launches during the shopping season later this year.

The new XBox 360 4GB model has taken a drastic departure from the earlier model where users enjoyed a massive 250GB of storage space. This device will only include a 4GB flash storage and shall allow users to make use of the touchscreen controls and DVD drive to play games. The device also comes incorporated with a Wi-Fi b/g/n support.

Microsoft Kinect Launch Date In November

Microsoft has announced that its latest gaming-plus-entertainment device, the Kinect will launch in November this year. The price has not been announced and it is expected that an announcement regarding this is likely in a few more hours from now.

Microsoft Kinect, formerly known as Project Natal shall be Redmond’s foray into the launch of a device that will not only offer users to play a controller-free gaming experience but will also allow additional entertainment experiences like video chat and picture sharing.

The name of the new project was unknown for a long time though we had stumbled upon the Kinect name last month in one of the trademark applications filed by Microsoft.

[via MCV UK]