Just the Best Parts: Kinect Hacking for Artists - Chapter 0.01


Welcome to Just the Best Parts: Kinect for Artists.

This is compact, to-the-point guide to using Microsoft’s Xbox 360 Kinect game controller to create amazing art and music.

This is a work-in-progress. When completed it will be available as an E-book in assorted formats. In the meantime it is viewable online here.

Reader comments are encouraged. Feedback is important.

Note: There are multiple versons of the Kinect. This book covers the very first one, the add-on for the Xbox 360. It is not the most powerful Kinect, but it is the likely to be the least expensive.

Who is this for?

Artists and musicians. People who want to make fun, interesting, artistic work. People who want to use new technology in novel ways but don’t think they’re geeky-nerdy enough to do it.

There are some technical parts but they are explained clearly, with specific instructions for installing and running all the needed software. You don’t need to know how to program. If you do know know how to program you’ll be able to expand on what’s in the book.

What’s in the book?

The book starts off with some background on Microsoft’s Xbox Kinect, and how it came to be available for personal hacking. It then explains how to prepare your computer to make use of the Kinect. And from there it goes on with a mix of specific examples and some general observations.

When you’re done you’ll be able to use the Kinect to control MIDI and animation software, create videos using motion capture, and interact with 3D rendering tools.

You’ll also get an understanding of how you can use the tools and techniques in the book to get almost any controller (be it your mobile device or any number of game controllers) and practically any software to play nice together.

What will I need?

A Kinect (of course), a computer of some kind, and curiosity about gestured and motion-controlled music and graphics.

Note: This book covers the Xbox 360 Kinect. This is first version of the Kinect. There are two other versions, which are similar (but different).

The Xbox 360 Kinect is the least expensive of the available versions.

Will there be programming?

Yes. Some. You can ignore it if you like and just copy-and-paste the required code, but you should really give it a try. The book gives you ready-to-run programs, but to get the most value for them you will want to modify them. You will learn how to do this, and so you will (if you don’t already know) some amount of programming. But this is not a programming book, and you can just use the programs as they are presented. Hopefully, though, your interest will be piqued.

Overall the book is intended to get non-techies up and running with an Xbox Kinect controller, attached to a computer, doing fun and useful things.

Consider what’s possible

Check out some of things people have been doing with the Kinect:

Kiwibank Welcome Experience


Kinect Turntable Scanner


Interactive Puppet Prototype


Be Your Own Souvenir


Kinect Flock | Particles + xBox Kinect by Alex Wolfe + Honray Lin


Dubstep Wobbles


You can do things like this too, after you’ve learned the basics.

You start right here.

On to Chapter 1

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