New Kinect Development
Our very own Jasper Brekelmans has been busy developing software to stream realtime skeleton data from the Microsoft Kinect to Motionbuilder.

Microsoft Kinect sensor

Using a Microsoft Kinect, the motion tracking and depth tracking hardware originally released for the Microsoft Xbox 360 as a controller-free interface device, PrimeSense OpenNI, NITE, Autodesk Maya and Autodesk MotionBuilder , Brekel's Kinect 3D Scanner plugin allows for realtime motion capture and recording in Motionbuilder. It allows you to capture 3D objects and export them to disk for use in 3D packages, as well as do skeleton tracking and stream this into Autodesk's MotionBuilder in realtime, using a custom device plugin.

This tool opens up several interesting production possibilities for low-cost motion sensing and interface design, such as on-location motion capture, interactive displays, point-of-sale advertising, digital signage, real-time animation, and interactive kiosks. Motek envisions commercial applications where this tool could be used in place of touch-screen interfaces, as it allows for gesture and motion-driven interaction, such as in the Sci-Fi film "Minority Report" .  

The implementation is based on OpenNI and NITE by PrimeSense, runs at 640 by 480 at 30fps for image and depth acquisition. A reasonably new machine will be able to process and stream at 30fps when using multiple threads.

There is a base application for data acquisition, pointcloud calculation and skeleton tracking. You can export color and depth image frames in several formats as well as geometry in .OBJ (and a few others) format. At the moment it can't export motion directly (BVH for example), but only streams it out to MotionBuilder. BVH export is expected to be supported in a future version. Then, there is a separate device for Motionbuilder which works on versions 2009, 2010 and 2011, in both 32 & 64bit. This connects over a TCP connection to the base app, so you can either run both on a single machine or network two machines together.

The device generates a skeleton with positions for Hips, Spine, Neck, Head, Uparms, Forearms, Hands, Uplegs, Lowerlegs and Feet, including rotations for everything except the head, hands and feet (due to the limitations of the NITE skeleton tracker - at least for now). The device is recordable and can create a MoBu character node for retargeting to other characters.

The current quality of this technology is by no means a replacement for any professional optical motion capture system, but it has great strength in being low cost, easy to setup, and it's able to be used with regular clothing.

Visit Brekel's site for more information, and to download the tools:


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