Microsoft to Improve Accuracy of Kinect Motion Sensor

New Firmware to Improve Accuracy of Kinect

by Anton Shilov
12/20/2010 | 05:55 PM

Microsoft Corp. is developing a new firmware update that will improve accuracy of its Kinect motion sensor and will allow it to detect finger movements as well as hand rotations. Apparently, the main limiting factor of Kinect's accuracy is not the resolution of its sensors, but the bandwidth between the console and Kinect.


The Kinect sensor can be plugged via USB bus directly into any Xbox 360 and features an RGB camera, a depth sensor, audio sensors, and motion-sensing technology that tracks 48 points of movement on the human body. Kinect has the ability to recognize faces and voices. Kinect can perform full-motion tracking of the human body at 30 frames per second. While the depth sensor supports 640x480 resolution, currently it has 320x240 resolution limit in order to consume only 15MB/s - 16MB/s of bandwidth.

This artificial limit is in place because multiple USB devices can be used at once on an Xbox 360. But according to a news-story by Eurogamer, Microsoft is working on a technology to allow greater throughput in this regard. If the depth sensor is capable of working with 640x480 resolution, it will be able to track fingers as well as hand rotations, providing better functionality for future games.

But while the upgrade may be done by a simple update of dashboard, not everything is that easy as apart from sensors Microsoft may need to tune other applications and Xbox 360 behaviour as well.

"[Microsoft would need to] disable or lower throughput of game installs running from USB flash drives to free up additional bandwidth. [...] All eminently doable though bearing in mind that Kinect 'only' needs 20MB/s for full res from both cameras. The resolution coming out of the depth camera via PC is indeed 640x480, but it is uncertain just how accurate the camera's sensor is. Additionally, processing four times as many depth pixels could slow things down more," said Rich Leadbetter, the director of Digital Foundry, in an interview with Eurogamer.