Kinect SDK

I purchased a Kinect last week so that I could start messing around with its API.

1) There are two versions of the Kinect.  The XBOX 360 one and the Windows one.  The only difference between the two that I could gather is that the Windows one pre-loads the SDK and allows you to distribute your software commercially.  Since I am just a hobbyist, I went with the XBOX one for $100 cheaper.

2) The Kinect for the XBOX360 requires an additional power cord for it to connect to your computer,  You don’t need to buy it though as it comes included.  I made that mistake (and compounded it by buying from the Microsoft store at a premium)

3) There are a couple different SDKs floating around out there.  There is the 1.0 SDK and the 1.5 SDK.  You will want to use the 1.5 one (because newer is always better) and there is a HUGE difference in the APIs between the two versions to the point that anything you wrote in 1.0 is useless.

4) I started digging into programming the Kinect with this book.  After reading the SDK samples and documentation, it really isn’t necessary.  The SDK is really well documented and is probably the best place to start to learn about the technology.

5) Once I dove into programming the Kinect, I realize that that this is no small task.  For C#, the amount of code you need to write and the complexity is higher than any other Microsoft technology I have seen.  You will need to know about bit shifts, the low-level details of graphical classes, and advanced data structures.  For example, here is an example from the Kinect Explorer solution:

// Converts a 16-bit grayscale depth frame which includes player indexes into a 32-bit frame
// that displays different players in different colors
private void ConvertDepthFrame(short[] depthFrame, DepthImageStream depthStream)
    int tooNearDepth = depthStream.TooNearDepth;
    int tooFarDepth = depthStream.TooFarDepth;
    int unknownDepth = depthStream.UnknownDepth;

    // Test that the buffer lengths are appropriately correlated, which allows us to use only one
    // value as the loop condition.
    if ((depthFrame.Length * 4) != this.depthFrame32.Length)
        throw new InvalidOperationException();

    for (int i16 = 0, i32 = 0; i32 < this.depthFrame32.Length; i16++, i32 += 4)
        int player = depthFrame[i16] & DepthImageFrame.PlayerIndexBitmask;
        int realDepth = depthFrame[i16] >> DepthImageFrame.PlayerIndexBitmaskWidth;
        if (player == 0 && realDepth == tooNearDepth)
            // white 
            this.depthFrame32[i32 + RedIndex] = 255;
            this.depthFrame32[i32 + GreenIndex] = 255;
            this.depthFrame32[i32 + BlueIndex] = 255;
        else if (player == 0 && realDepth == tooFarDepth)
            // dark purple
            this.depthFrame32[i32 + RedIndex] = 66;
            this.depthFrame32[i32 + GreenIndex] = 0;
            this.depthFrame32[i32 + BlueIndex] = 66;
        else if (player == 0 && realDepth == unknownDepth)
            // dark brown
            this.depthFrame32[i32 + RedIndex] = 66;
            this.depthFrame32[i32 + GreenIndex] = 66;
            this.depthFrame32[i32 + BlueIndex] = 33;
            // transform 13-bit depth information into an 8-bit intensity appropriate
            // for display (we disregard information in most significant bit)
            byte intensity = (byte)(~(realDepth >> 4));

            // tint the intensity by dividing by per-player values
            this.depthFrame32[i32 + RedIndex] = (byte)(intensity >> IntensityShiftByPlayerR[player]);
            this.depthFrame32[i32 + GreenIndex] = (byte)(intensity >> IntensityShiftByPlayerG[player]);
            this.depthFrame32[i32 + BlueIndex] = (byte)(intensity >> IntensityShiftByPlayerB[player]);

My goal is to have enough to work with to present at TriNug’s code camp in November.  That might be a stretch…

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