It’s been said before and I’ll say it again - Kinect isn’t just for video games anymore. Ever since the release of the Kinect for Windows SDK last year and the official Kinect for Windows hardware this year, developers have gone to great lengths to create some of the most creative and awe inspiring applications we’ve seen in years. A few features have been missing but Carl Franklin has the answer to at least one of them.
Franklin has created a gesture recognition SDK for Kinect for Windows called GesturePak. With this new software, developers will be able to easily program gesture recognition into their applications. It would be especially useful for applications that require such recognition since building it yourself would take months.
Even if it did take you months, you could still build gesture recognition for yourself. That’s stupid though since Franklin already did the hard work for you. Here’s his explanation:
"When Microsoft released the Kinect for Windows SDK beta last year, I tried to write an app to recognize a simple gesture. It was way too complex. The SDK spits out a stream of joint data (X,Y, and Z axis data points for each of the 20 locations on your body that the Kinect tracks) at 30 frames per second. In order to recognize gestures you have to track coordinates in space over periods of time, compensate for a margin of error, and somehow determine that the user is actually moving deliberately the way you want them to.
My idea was to simplify this process by breaking down a gesture, say a hand wave, into poses. A gesture is a series of poses that are matched sequentially. So, I wrote a recorder (I'm an audio recording engineer so my brain just goes there...) that takes snapshots of your body and saves the data into a collection of poses. Then I wrote a matcher that watches you in real time, and determines if you're hitting the poses. It's a lot of logic and math, but at the end of the day all that goo is abstracted away from the programmer. If you want to recognize somebody flapping their arms, rocking their head from side to side, kicking their feet, swaying their hips, or just about anything you can think of, you're crazy if you don't use some kind of gesture matching toolkit like GesturePak."
Franklin says that Microsoft themselves are working on gesture recognition solutions for version 1.5 of the Kinect for Windows SDK. The solutions Microsoft provides isn’t real gesture recognition, Franklin says its getting close. In the meantime, his SDK can take care of the work for developers wanting to track gestures.
Head over to the Web site to try out a free demo of the gesture recognition SDK. It allows you to “create and test as many gestures as you like, even matching multiple gestures at the same time. If you want to save those gestures, however, you’re going to need to buy the license. With the license, you also get the power to have your Windows Apps recognize your saved gestures.
A single developer license only costs $99 with a site license going for $799. Considering that a lot of the Kinect developers who won the Kinect Accelerator were small teams, this kind of pricing structure will be most advantageous to the kind of developers making the truly unique applications with Kinect.