Azure Kinect Depth Camera with Unity VFXGraph

December 15, 2020

Azure Kinect Camera

The Azure Kinect is a Microsoft product that was originally developed for the XBox and a series of games that were taking on the Nintendo Wii. Full-body skeletal tracking and gesture detection were incorporated into games. The idea being that you didn't need a controller ... except, you did really. Because it didn't work that well in a family gaming party environment. Whilst the technology is most definitely sound, it struggled being used outside of a carefully controlled environment. So the old Kinect was mainly picked up by Creative Tech enthusiasts and tinkerers and took on a new life.

Microsoft upgraded the camera in 2010 (?????) as a standalone piece of kit for developers, and a lot of the tech and software made it into their Hololens product.

We've been tinkering with the camera in Unity using VFXGraph and the results are quite amazing. Thanks to Keijiro Takahashi for the wonderful code.

What can we use this for?

Good question! We used the Kinect a few years ago for the Selfridges Christmas Window Display to control the direction of an image sequence of a crystal. The users hands and head were detected and tracked. Here's a video of some of the research:

As you can see, the head and hands are visible on-screen and control the movement of the animation. This was quite a subtle effect, but the camera can be used to control much more interesting and vivid installations. Here it is used for a kiosk displaying information about the anatomy:

For museums and exhibition spaces the Kinect camera can be used to create some amazing effects. Get in touch to discuss further.

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