Xbox Kinect: How the motor works

The motor system explained

How Xbox Kinect works | 1. Movement tracking | 2. Voice recognition | 3. The motor

The final part of Kinect’s tech-laden underbelly is its motor. Microsoft spent time looking at the differences in living spaces across American, European and Asian homes, and realised that the camera needed to be able to move up and down to calibrate to each specific space.

When you get your hands on Kinect, you might notice that the base is quite weighty. While this is in part to stop the unit from falling over, it’s also due to the motor being located there. It’s able to move the unit’s head up and down, plus or minus 30 degrees, meaning that (when placed at the optimal 3-6ft height) it can still work regardless of your TV unit’s height.

T3 was taken round Microsoft’s labs, where we were shown the motor being tested under extreme heat, for extended use (thousands of tilts a day over a course of several months) as well as to be accurate to within one degree. A quiet room has also been built to make sure that the motor and tilting can’t be heard by the user. Microsoft insists that the action is around 24 decibels loud, while the average living space about 40.

The motor also operates the camera’s zoom function, which allows it to expand the play space. The example we were shown was somebody joining a video chat by walking in behind the sofa, at which point the picture zoomed out to compensate and allow them into the frame. There is also a fan that only kicks in when needed, so as not to interfere with the microphones.

Related Links:
- Microsoft Kinect review: First play and hands-on pics
- Microsoft Kinect launch titles announced at E3
- Microsoft Kinect UK pricing announced with new 4GB 360