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How the Microsoft Kinect SDK Works

Setting Up the Kinect SDK

You'll need a few things before you can use the Kinect SDK. Some of these will require a purchase; others are free or already part of your Windows computer:

  • A 32-bit or 64-bit dual-core processor that's 2.66 GHz or faster
  • 2 GB of RAM
  • A dedicated USB 2.0 bus
  • Microsoft Windows 7, Windows Embedded Standard 7 or Windows 8 Developer Preview
  • Microsoft Visual Studio 2010 (Express or other versions)
  • .NET Framework 4.0
  • Microsoft DirectX SDK (June 2010 or later version)
  • Runtime for Microsoft DirectX 9
  • A Kinect for Windows sensor with special USB data/power cabling

The Kinect for Windows sensor listed above is not the same as the Kinect hardware you'd purchase for an Xbox 360. Kinect for Windows costs $249, which is about $100 more than Kinect for Xbox. DirectX SDK and .NET Framework are available as free downloads, and the Express edition of Visual Studio is also free. We've put the download links for this software at the end of this article [source: Microsoft].

As you may have guessed, you'll also need some computer programming experience before you get started. If you haven't used .NET, you'll need to get a good resource to map what you know about other programming languages to the .NET Framework. Along with .NET, you'll want to familiarize yourself with the DirectX SDK designed to create interactive software using the DirectX multimedia interfaces. Visual Studio operates as an integrated development environment (IDE) where you can program in .NET while integrating the DirectX and Kinect SDKs.

With all these pieces in place, you're ready to download the Kinect SDK and get started. The download is free. Just visit the Kinect for Windows Web site, click "develop," and use the download link from there. As of spring of 2012, the latest download was version at 226.8 MB. When your download's complete, use the instructions from the Kinect for Windows site to install the software, start the Kinect for Windows device, and begin your development experience in Visual Studio.

Don't know where to go from here? Next, let's check out what some other developers have done with the Kinect SDK and discover how to publish your own Kinect applications.