My experience with Kinect installations

November 27th, 2012

I have spent the last year, building couple of different Kinect installations, so in this post I would like to share some tips and points, which might seem rather obvious, but can be easily forgotten when building and designing your interaction software and patterns.

The Kinect IR camera does not work correctly in daylight, because the Sun emits a lot of IR light. I was really surprised the first time I had this problem and then I felt rather stupid :)

The IR light emitted by the laser gets reflected by leather clothes, shoes, so don’t get surprised when someone dressed with leather have holes in their depth image or have trouble with skeleton tracking.

Define your area of interaction, I think this is really important! You can use led strips to restrict the area, where the user gets detected and where the user must stay. The last time we used three flashlights pointing at each other, people though that they were the motion sensors and were pretty impressed, so you could definitely do some experimentation there. Defining strict borders is good, because people will know immediately where they have to stay to interact and all other people won’t interfere with the camera. Another cool trick, if you are using OpenNI and you want to restrict some parts on the left and right side, is stick tape on the sides of the IR camera.

If you are using Skeleton tracking, usually it takes like 5 secs, until the user skeleton gets detected and calibrated, so you should provide some kind of a feedback during that time, loading board or some kind of a message, that the user has been detected. People expect immediate feedback!

Mind the short people and kids! This was my first mistake with our first installation, people has to rise their hands in order to activate some elements in the installation. Software wise, I was just detecting when the blob passes certain vertical threshold, so when some kids came to try it, they could not reach the threshold.

People love their “shadow”! There is something magical, about seeing your silhouette in a different color or form, people just love that, especially if they are at a party. They will dance their ass off :) So even though sometimes rigged characters are fun, consider implementing some blobs.

I will try to add some more tips along the way, but if somebody has something else to share, please feel free to comment!


Annieck Brouwer says:
2013-12-02 08:56:11
Hi! I love your blog. I am a student at the Amsterdam school of the arts, and I want to make an interactive installation using the kinect. Do you maybe have some tips for me? Where do I start, which programs can I use best when I want to do a realtime mocap? Where could I find additional information?
    admin says:
    2013-12-02 10:10:17
    Hey Annieck, If you are a programmer, you could try messing around with Openframeworks (, if not you could download NI Mate(, it's a great tool for real time motion capture and control. Cheerz!

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