Kinected Browser - Kinect On The Web
Written by Harry Fairhead   
Thursday, 15 November 2012

The Kinect is well supported by a good and evolving SDK on the desktop, but until now using it in a browser wasn't easy. Now Microsoft Research has a free JavaScript API, Kinected Browser, that lets you integrate the Kinect with HTML.

You can download the software for free from Microsoft Research. This is the good news, but there is some not so perfect news as well.

The bad news is that the API is provided via a plugin and an ActiveX plugin at that. The Kinect drivers have to be installed on the machine that the browser is running on, so this limits its use to a subset of Windows-based machines - Windows 7 and 8 and in desktop mode only. In addition the browser has to be IE9 or IE 10.

 kinectbrowserarch

 

In the world of platform-neutral HTML5 this is disappointing and very restrictive, but to be fair it is hard to see how a platform-neutral solution could have been implemented. The Microsoft view of the Kinect is that it is a Windows-only device. Even so, it is strange to be working with an ActiveX component again. If you want to use the Kinect with other hardware then you need to move to the open source drivers.

 

kinectedbrowser

 

The API provides you with access to the Kinect's data - color and depth streams - and provides DOM events for joint activity. Of course, you can do skeleton tracking, and creating a small program that maps a skeleton onto a canvas element is very easy as it has a special drawSkeleton option. Once you have installed the software, all you have to do is load two scripts and start writing JavaScript using third party libraries such as jQuery if you want to. Apart from the new JavaScript calls, you are free to work in a completely standard way and can interact with browser and the DOM as usual.

The ability to use Kinect data within HTML is important because there are a lot more programmers who know how to do HTML5 graphics than know how to work with DirectX or .NET. If you look at the following video, then you can see that allowing the user to interact with DOM elements is very, very easy.

 

 

While the restriction to IE9/10 and Windows is disappointing, this doesn't lessen the potential for new uses of the Kinect. Put simply - this is an exciting step for Kinect.

Look out for our tutorial article to get you started.

 

 

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