Microsoft has just launched the new gaming and entertainment console – the XBox One about two days ago, and the new Kinect is an integral part of this console. The new Kinect is remarkably more powerful than the previous and original version which has been around for a few years. I am familiar with the capabilities of the original Kinect, having used it for a performance installation in my final semester project at LASALLE in a real time performance with dancers and actors.
It is a little bigger and boxier than the previous version but packs more punch. For one, it has a slightly higher RGB / IR resolution of 1024 pixels as compared to 640 pixels, but I would say this is still pretty sad if you are an artist who wish to hack it for real time video streaming. Otherwise, the RGB camera is mainly used for Skyping in its commercial context. The video field of view is now 60% wider, which means the user can stand at a distance of 1.2 metres or 4 feet and his whole body would be seen by the camera. In the previous Kinect, the user had to stand at least 2.5 metres away to be seen entirely by the Kinect. The new Kinect can also track up to six skeletons at once, as opposed to two for the previous version. The voice recognition capability is enhanced such that it knows who is talking and giving the command. It is able to do so from a spatial voice recognition as well as detecting whose mouth is moving. If you are holding a console, the IR transmitter on your console will also communicate with the Kinect.
Okay here is the scary part. The new Kinect can read your mood from your facial expression. As seen in the above image, the facial expression is at the lower right corner. The new Kinect knows if you are paying attention, if you are bored or excited. I also read somewhere that it can detect your eye movement as well but I’m not sure if this is correct. Another new feature is muscle detection. The Kinect knows which muscles are relaxed and which are tensed or stressed. As seen from the below image, the green parts of the human figure represent relaxed muscles and the red parts (mostly the legs) represent the muscles being used.
Lastly, another new feature is the Kinect’s ability to detect your heartbeat or pulse rate. I am guessing that this is due to its IR camera scanning our bodies which has a higher resolution than the previous version.
I hope to be able to play with it one day. And I don’t mean just playing the commercial games, but hacking it as well.
(All images obtained from mashable.com)