Getting rolling with Kinect for Windows v2 SDK

Xbox One KinectDeveloper Louis St-Amour from York University digs into the Kinect for Windows v2 SDK and shares a few important tips on getting ready to explore its capabilities.

This week, the final bits for the Kinect for Windows v2 SDK were released. This second version of the Kinect for Windows SDK is designed to be used with the Kinect hardware you may already know and love in the Xbox One. The SDK now supports building apps for the Windows Store in addition to the managed .NET and native C++ support from the first-generation Kinect for Windows.

So what’s new in v2’s hardware? Everything:

  • 1080p video input
  • Depth sensing from 0.5 to 4.5 metres
  • Unity Pro support (hello game developers!)
  • Active infrared

So what can you do with it? An idea I just had would be to do facial recognition in a dim room as you watch a movie, and automatically create a highlight reel or storyboard of reaction shots from the couch. I’m sure you can come up with better ideas, the takeaway is that active IR capture means low light won’t stand in the way of your creativity.

The Kinect for Windows v2 sensor isn’t for everyone, but if you’ve read this far, it’s probably for you.

There are a few of the usual system requirements:

  • 64-bit processor
  • 4 GB of RAM
  • Windows 8, 8.1, or Windows Embedded 8

But there’s more required for such cutting-edge hardware:

  • the equivalent of a quad-core 3.1GHz or higher processor, where an i7 should be capable enough
  • a graphics card capable of DirectX 11 which will also help your projects look their best.
  • But that’s not all, and this last one tripped me up. You’ll ideally need a USB 3.0 controller dedicated to the Kinect for Windows v2 sensor, or at minimum, a USB 3.0 controller that works well with the Kinect.

So how do you know if your PC or laptop is compatible?

That’s a lot of stuff to check, so it’s worth it to download, install and run this Kinect v2 Configuration Verifier. It’s a separate download from the SDK, and the SDK does not check for compatibility when you install it, so before you rush to plug in the Kinect, you’ll want to test your PC first. In my case, my Intel first-gen X79 build is showing its age in the following screenshot:

Kinect Configuration Verifier

This doesn’t mean you have to rush out to buy a new PC! If you have a workstation like mine, you can get a compatible USB 3.0 add-on card. You’ll have the added bonus of being able to dedicate the entire controller to the Kinect for best performance. Here is a partial list of compatible add-on cards.

What if your PC isn’t compatible and you don’t have room for adding a USB controller? Surprisingly, it’s been known to work on laptops, including the Surface Pro 2 and Surface Pro 3, the Lenovo Yoga 13, etc.

Having trouble getting it to work? or wondering why it’s taking a long time to start up? Have a read through the Troubleshooting and Common Issues Guide.

Once you’ve connected your Kinect, and installed the SDK. Start having fun check out the Kinect with me posts by Sage Franch on this blog.

This post was written by Louis St-Amour, a Microsoft Student Partner at York University.

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