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Kinect 2.0 picks up deeper UWP integration and Windows Hello support on PC thanks to new drivers

Microsoft detailed plans to bring deeper integration between Kinect and UWP back in May 2016, but the company has now issued a driver update that enables new developer features that arrived through this past summer's Anniversary Update.

As detailed on this blog post (via WinBuzzer), Kinect can now act as a regular RGB webcam for Universal Windows Platform (UWP) apps both on Xbox and Windows 10 with the same code.

Additionally, while Kinect has the capabilities, enabling it as a camera for Windows Hello required a bunch of registry hacks to get it running. This new driver update streamlines the process, allowing it to be used as a regular camera source to support Windows Hello's biometric authentication.

The update introduces new APIs for skeletal tracking, depth perception and more for UWP Windows Store apps and games, and all of the new features align with Xbox One too, since the summer update.

"Finally, we should note that the Xbox summer update also enables these Kinect features through Windows.Media.Capture.Frames for UWP apps. Thus, apps that use the Kinect sensor's RGB, infrared, and/or depth cameras will run on Xbox with same code, and Xbox can also use the Kinect RGB camera as a normal webcam for Skype-like scenarios."

While Microsoft Studios themselves haven't been putting much effort behind Kinect games, the fact Microsoft are bothering to integrate the tech into UWP for both Xbox One and Windows shows the company still believes in its capabilities. Will that belief extend to new Kinect hardware in the future? We can only hope.

You can force the driver update by going through the Device Manager. Otherwise, the new driver will arrive via Windows Update at some point in the future.

Jez Corden is a Senior Editor for Windows Central, focusing primarily on all things Xbox and gaming. Jez is known for breaking exclusive news and analysis as relates to the Microsoft ecosystem while being powered by caffeine. Follow on Twitter @JezCorden and listen to his Xbox Two podcast, all about, you guessed it, Xbox!

42 Comments
  • cool
  • Anyone else wonders what happened to the IllumiRoom project?
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-6SJnpBfdBs
    This would have been a massive hit. Kinect has failed to get enough traction to be a differentiator than what the PS offers. I really hoped that the IllumiRoom project would have come a reality by now!
  • It's all wrapped into Windows Holographic. Illumiroom was a research project (one of many particularly cool immersive augmented reality projects). The great thing about Windows Holographic is that it's mostly device agnostic, so device manufacturers would just have to provide drivers and it'll just work (similar to the way you can plug in any monitor and it just works). Windows Holographic will work with HoloLens and a bunch of other VR, AR and MR headsets. But it could conceivably also be made to work just as easily in a headset-free environment, such as a projected setup like Illumiroom.
  • I'm guessing this will not work for a 360 kinect? I'd love to be wrong...
  • Nope doesn't have the same hardware for it
  • Figured... Thanks anyway though.
  • Will this work with Xbox One's Kinect only? Or will Xbox 360's version be supported as well?
  • XB1 only.
  • Aye Kinect 2.0, have fixed the title, sorry about that.
  • Wasn't Kinect actually the first version of Windows Hello? It logged me into my Xbox with my face, way before Windows 10.
  • It used to work really well! Nice to see Kinect rising from the grave, if only for a day or two.
  • I think the issue with the Kinect was the fact that MS focused on it adding to or being a new way of gaming only. That's where it fell off, because game developers didn't embrace it whole heartedly. Only a hand full of developers made games with Kinect in mind. The major problem for developers was adding features in cross platform games or games they intended to make cross platform to work with Kinect. Since I'm not a developer, I can only suspect that adding these features may cause playability issues on PS...or Wii. It could also be that they didn't see the value of taking the time and effort to adding a feature that many people would not use, now that I think about it. Remember how people complained about the price of the Xbox One, because it included the Kinect? That's another issue all together.
  • Yeah, i guess msft is looking at its options and that's a good thing... It might rise up again if the odds are high.
  • Sort of. Xbox One actually doesn't use your face to log in. It uses a combination of things that make up a 3D "skeleton" that has unique characteristics that make up your signature (which is why you have to be a minimum distance away for it to recognize you). Plugged into a PC, it's doing close-up work, so that's where they had to do a lot of driver tweaking to make it do proper 3D facial recognition instead of using your whole body.
  • This is definitely interesting. I hope they do VR things with Kinect.
  • I agree ! VR requires external sensors for room scale (optional for the Rift, mandatory for the Vive), with kinect MS might already have its sensor, with additional capabilities !
  • Microsoft already released sub $300 vr headsets to/from OEMs to use, and they don't require external camera or sensor anymore.
  • Kinect rocks.
  • Hoping for a slimmer Kinect 3.0 for Scorpio.
  • What's the quality like for the RGB camera? I.e. Is it actually a decent webcam?
  • Supposedly 1080p, I think.
  • Yeah, its 1080p, but unfortunately, its also vert wide angle.
  • Why have kinect 3.0 when you can build it into the console!?
  • It's easier to mount a small camera than position a console I guess. I hope they have some kinda solution planned for Scorpio, and one would expect they do, if they're supporting UWP etc.
  • Yeah, of course that is true, that is a really silly idea. A camera in my XB1 would do no good, tucked in its back corner. Just kind of thinking of the built in IR blaster replacing the Kinect functions for device control. It would be nice to at least have the mic option.
  • Xbox One S has the built-in IR Blaster, and at least with Cortana enabled, you can use a headset to control any Xbox.
  • That's completely awesome! By the way, UWP apps like Microphone Kaleidoscope and Mirror work very well on Xbox, using Kinect, obviously! Not only Microsoft Camera makes use of it
  • Ah my bad, will update.
  • I guess my next webcam is gonna be a Kinect.
  • Kinect this gen had so much potential. Sad to see how it has been neglected for so long, but maybe this is a step in the right direction
  • Hopefully.
  • I think the main issue of Kinect is that the first generation wasn't quite ready. There were some great games, but hardware limitations and the amount of space needed made it hard to play. By the time the next gen came out and resolved the issues the developers didn't see the value anymore. Hopefully we get some more great games. Would love to see another Kinect Disneyland Adventures type game.
  • Nice. Now I have no excuse. I was on the fence, considering it for setting up the Holoportation project with HoloLens anyway. I still haven't seen much on the Intel stereo cameras. They seem still to be in beta with one or two commercial launches (Razer has one I think). Related, has anyone used Kinect 2 and the "3D Builder" win 10 app to 3D an object? Just curious about resolution, time and holding it manually. 3D capture, shown at Microsoft's recent event, may obviate or supersede 3D builder +kinect.
  • I haven't, but I think this will be my next project!
  • Tried 3D Builder and Kinect....need good lighting, good turntable or similar....my results were mostly poor due to lighting, definite promise, tho.
  • I can see this having huge potential if used in tandem with Hololens apps. This could be the first step towards holographic Skype calls.
  • what about the mics?
  • The mics on Kinect v2 are really good, my office in quite noisy (test server running regularly) and Cortana could never hear reliably with a Microsoft LifeCam Studio. The new Kinect driver lets you use the mics array without having the video part on, and Cortana can now properly do noise cancelling and hears accurately every single time.
     
  • Is this Kinect different from the one attached to my Xbox one? Can I attach my Kinect to the computer & get the firmware upgrade for windows hello?
  • I'm wondering the same thing. You can get a used Kinect for Xbox One at GameStop for about $60. Depending on where you shop, the PC adapter is about $40. It's a monstrosity of cables and power adapters, but if I could get a Kinect webcam for my desktop PC that would do Windows Hello, it'd almost be worth it.
  •     I'm considering this as well for my W10 PC. EBGames north of the border has Kinect for Xbox One for $80.00 now if I could only find the adapter for $20.00, i'd do it. I think Kinect for Windows 2.0 is a different hardware product than Kinect for Xbox One. Kinect 2.0 came out before the X1 version but after the 360 version of Kinect. I see the MS Store no longer has a listing for it though. http://venturebeat.com/2015/04/02/microsoft-stops-producing-kinect-for-w...  
  • Yes, the Xbox One Kinect will work so long as you get the USB adapter.