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Each Kinect® peripheral has three different types of sensors. The primary sensor that the Kinect® is known for is an infrared (IR) camera capable of examining points of light to create a depth map. These primary Kinect® sensors are used to map an area, and the people within it, in three dimensions. Each device also has a traditional camera that creates a red, green and blue (RGB) video output. The final type of Kinect® sensors present in each device are four microphones arranged into an array.
The Kinect® is a peripheral device used to manipulate video games without the need for a physical controller. A number of different Kinect® sensors work together to make this possible. Earlier motion capture peripherals only tracked movement, but the Kinect® is also capable of generating a depth map and recognizing the source of different sounds within a room. The inputs from these Kinect® sensors may also be used separately for different functions.
In order for Kinect® sensors to create a depth map, each device is also equipped with an infrared projector. This component is capable of shining thousands of points of light onto the playing area. These points of light are invisible to the naked eye, but the infrared camera present in each Kinect® is able to see them and then calculate time of flight to create a three-dimensional representation of the room.
The other visual sensor present in each Kinect® is a traditional RGB camera. This camera creates video at a resolution of 640x480 and 30 frames per second (FPS). By combining this visual data with the depth map provided by the IR sensor, the Kinect® can create a three-dimensional representation of a space. This combined information is also used to estimate the skeletal structure of a player, which is how the peripheral registers movement to generate game inputs. The video can also be used separately from the depth map for video conferencing and taking still pictures.
A microphone array is the final type of sensor present in each Kinect® device. By examining the difference in the sounds picked up by each of the four microphones in the array, the Kinect® can determine approximately where a sound came from. This information may be used to lock voice control to one player or filter out background noise. The microphone array can also be used separately for voice communication and other similar functions.