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System requirements for the Kinect for Windows SDK

While developing applications for any device using an SDK, compatibility plays a pivotal role. It is really important that your development environment must fulfill the following set of requirements before starting to work with the Kinect for Windows SDK.

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Supported operating systems

The Kinect for Windows SDK, as its name suggests, runs only on the Windows operating system. The following are the supported operating systems for development:

  • Windows 7

  • Windows Embedded 7

  • Windows 8

The Kinect for Windows sensor will also work on Windows operating systems running in a virtual machine such as Microsoft HyperV, VMWare, and Parallels.

System configuration

The hardware requirements are not as stringent as the software requirements. It can be run on most of the hardware available in the market. The following are the minimum configurations required for development with Kinect for Windows:

  • A 32- (x86) or 64-bit (x64) processor

  • Dual core 2.66 GHz or faster processor

  • Dedicated USB 2.0 bus

  • 2 GB RAM

The Kinect sensor

It goes without saying, you need a Kinect sensor for your development. You can use the Kinect for Windows or the Kinect for Xbox sensor for your development.

Before choosing a sensor for your development, make sure you are clear about the limitations of the Kinect for Xbox sensor over the Kinect for Windows sensor, in terms of features, API supports, and licensing mechanisms.

The Kinect for Windows sensor

By now, you are already familiar with the Kinect for Windows sensor and its different components. The Kinect for Windows sensor comes with an external power supply, which supplies the additional power, and a USB adapter to connect with the system. For the latest updates and availability of the Kinect for Windows sensor, you can refer to http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/kinectforwindows/site.

The Kinect for Xbox sensor

If you already have a Kinect sensor with your Xbox gaming console, you may use it for development. Similar to the Kinect for Windows sensor, you will require a separate power supply for the device so that it can power up the motor, camera, IR sensor, and so on.

If you have bought a Kinect sensor with an Xbox as a bundle, you will need to buy the adapter / power supply separately. You can check out the external power supply adapter at http://www.microsoftstore.com. If you have bought only the Kinect for Xbox sensor, you will have everything that is required for a connection with a PC and external power cable.

Development tools and software

The following are the software that are required for development with Kinect SDK:

  • Microsoft Visual Studio 2010 Express or higher editions of Visual Studio

  • Microsoft .NET Framework 4.0 or higher

  • Kinect for Windows SDK

Kinect for Windows SDK uses the underlying speech capability of a Windows operating system to interact with the Kinect audio system. This will require Microsoft Speech Platform – Server Runtime, the Microsoft Speech Platform SDK, and a language pack to be installed in the system, and these will be installed along with the Kinect for Windows SDK. The system requirements for SDK may change with upcoming releases. Refer to http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/ kinectforwindows/. for the latest system requirements.

Evaluation of the Kinect for Windows SDK


Though the Kinect for Xbox sensor has been in the market for quite some time, Kinect for Windows SDK is still fairly new in the developer paradigm, and it’s evolving. The book is written on Kinect for Windows SDK v1.6. The Kinect for Windows SDK was first launched as a Beta 1 version in June 2011, and after a thunderous response from the developer community, the updated version of Kinect for Windows SDK Beta 2 version was launched in November 2011. Initially, both the SDK versions were a non-commercial release and were meant only for hobbyists. The first commercial version of Kinect for Windows SDK (v1.0) was launched in February 2012 along with a separate commercial hardware device. SDK v1.5 was released on May 2012 with bunches of new features, and the current version of Kinect for Windows SDK (v1.6) was launched in October 2012. The hardware hasn’t changed since its first release. It was initially limited to only 12 countries across the globe. Now the new Kinect for Windows sensor is available in more than 40 countries. The current version of SDK also has the support of speech recognition for multiple languages.


Downloading the SDK and the Developer Toolkit

The Kinect SDK and the Developer Toolkit are available for free and can be downloaded from http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/kinectforwindows/.

The installer will automatically install the 64- or 32-bit version of SDK depending on your operating system. The Kinect for Windows Developer Toolkit is an additional installer that includes samples, tools, and other development extensions. The following diagram shows these components:


The main reason behind keeping SDK and Developer Toolkit in two different installers is to update the Developer Toolkit independently from the SDK. This will help to keep the toolkit and samples updated and distributed to the community without changing or updating the actual SDK version. The version of Kinect for Windows SDK and that for the Kinect for Windows Developer Toolkit might not be the same.

Installing Kinect for Windows SDK

Before running the installation, make sure of the following:

  • You have uninstalled all the previous versions of Kinect for Windows SDK

  • The Kinect sensor is not plugged into the USB port on the computer

  • There are no Visual Studio instances currently running

Start the installer, which will display the start screen as End User License Agreement. You need to read and accept this agreement to proceed with the installation. The following screenshot shows the license agreement:


Accept the agreement by selecting the checkbox and clicking on the Install option, which will do the rest of the job automatically.

Before the installation, your computer may pop out the User Access Control (UAC) dialog, to get a confirmation from you that you are authorizing the installer to make changes in your computer.

Once the installation is over, you will be notified along with an option for installing the Developer Toolkit, as shown in the next screenshot:

Is it mandatory to uninstall the previous version of SDK before we install the new one?

The upgrade will happen without any hassles if your current version is a non-Beta version. As a standard procedure, it is always recommended to uninstall the older SDK prior to installing the newer one, if your current version is a Beta version.

Installing the Developer Toolkit

If you didn’t downloaded the Developer Toolkit installer earlier, you can click on the Download the Developer Toolkit option of the SDK setup wizard (refer to the previous screenshot); this will first download and then install the Developer Toolkit setup. If you have already downloaded the setup, you can close the current window and execute the standalone Toolkit installer. The installation process for Developer Toolkit is similar to the process for the SDK installer.

Components installed by the SDK and the Developer Toolkit

The Kinect for Windows SDK and Kinect for Windows Developer Toolkit install the drivers, assemblies, samples, and the documentation. To check which components are installed, you can navigate to the Install and Uninstall Programs section of Control Panel and search for Kinect. The following screenshot shows the list of components that are installed with the SDK and Toolkit installer:

The default location for the SDK and Toolkit installation is %ProgramFiles%/Microsoft SDKs/Kinect.

Kinect management service

The Kinect for Windows SDK also installs Kinect Management, which is a Windows service that runs in the background while your PC communicates with the device. This service is responsible for the following tasks:

  • Listening to the Kinect device for any status changes

  • Interacting with the COM Server for any native support

  • Managing the Kinect audio components by interacting with Windows audio drivers

You can view this service by launching Services by navigating to Control Panel |Administrative Tools, or by typing Services.msc in the Run command.

Is it necessary to install the Kinect SDK to end users’ systems?

The answer is No. When you install the Kinect for Windows SDK, it creates a Redist directory containing an installer that is designed to be deployed with Kinect applications, which install the runtime and drivers. This is the path where you can find the setup file after the SDK is installed:

%ProgramFiles%/Microsoft SDKsKinectv1.6Redist KinectRuntime-v1.6-Setup.exe

This can be used with your application deployment package, which will install only the runtime and necessary drivers.

Connecting the sensor with the system

Now that we have installed the SDK, we can plug the Kinect device into your PC. The very first time you plug the device into your system, you will notice the LED indicator of the Kinect sensor turning solid red and the system will start installing the drivers automatically.

The default location of the driver is %Program Files%Microsoft Kinect DriversDrivers.

The drivers will be loaded only after the installation of SDK is complete and it’s a one-time job. This process also checks for the latest Windows updates on USB Drivers, so it is good to be connected to the Internet if you don’t have the latest updates of Windows.

The check marks in the dialog box shown in the next screenshot indicate successful driver software installation:

When the drivers have finished loading and are loaded properly, the LED light on your Kinect sensor will turn solid green. This indicates that the device is functioning properly and can communicate with the PC as well.

Verifying the installed drivers

This is typically a troubleshooting procedure in case you encounter any problems. Also, the verification procedure will help you to understand how the device drivers are installed within your system. In order to verify that the drivers are installed correctly, open Control Panel and select Device Manager; then look for the Kinect for Windows node. You will find the Kinect for Windows Device option listed as shown in the next screenshot:

Not able to view all the device components

At some point of time, it may happen that you are able to view only the Kinect for Windows Device node (refer to the following screenshot). At this point of time, it looks as if the device is ready. However, a careful examination reveals a small hitch. Let’s see whether you can figure it out or not! The Kinect device LED is on and Device Manager has also detected the device, which is absolutely fine, but we are still missing something here. The device is connected to the PC using the USB port, and the system prompt shows the device installed successfully—then where is the problem?

The default USB port that is plugged into the system doesn’t have the power capabilities required by the camera, sensor, and motor. At this point, if you plug it into an external power supplier and turn the power on, you will find all the driver nodes in Device Manager loaded automatically.

This is one of the most common mistakes made by the developers. While working with Kinect SDK, make sure your Kinect device is connected with the computer using the USB port, and the external power adapter is plugged in and turned on.

The next picture shows the Kinect sensor with USB connector and power adapter, and how they have been used:

With the aid of the external power supply, the system will start searching for Windows updates for the USB components. Once everything is installed properly, the system will prompt you as shown in the next screenshot:

All the check marks in the screenshot indicate that the corresponding components are ready to be used and the same components are also reflected in Device Manager.

The messages prompting for the loading of drivers, and the prompts for the installation displaying during the loading of drivers, may vary depending upon the operating system you are using. You might also not receive any of them if the drivers are being loaded in the background.

Detecting the loaded drivers in Device Manager

Navigate to Control Panel | Device Manager, look for the Kinect for Windows node, and you will find the list of components detected. Refer to the next screenshot:

The Kinect for Windows Audio Array Control option indicates the driver for the Kinect audio system whereas the Kinect for Windows Camera option controls the camera sensor. The Kinect for Windows Security Control option is used to check whether the device being used is a genuine Microsoft Kinect for Windows or not. In addition to appearing under the Kinect for Windows node, the Kinect for Windows USB Audio option should also appear under the Sound, Video and Game Controllers node, as shown in the next screenshot:

Once the Kinect sensor is connected, you can identify the Kinect microphone like any other microphone connected to your PC in the Audio Device Manager section. Look at the next screenshot:


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