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Linux 2.6.40/3.0 Kernel Has New Microsoft Kinect Driver

Linux Kernel

Published on 25 May 2011 09:58 AM EDT
Written by Michael Larabel in Linux Kernel
1 Comment

Here's another change for the Linux 3.0 Kernel (or Linux 2.6.40 if the kernel versioning change doesn't end up happening for this cycle)... Microsoft Kinect support as a new V4L kernel driver.

Since last November there's been an open-source Linux driver for Microsoft's Kinect 3D sensor to take advantage of its RGB camera and depth-sensing functionality. With the next Linux kernel release, there's now a new Linux driver that's been integrated into the mainline tree. As part of the 3.0-rc1 Video 4 Linux pull request, there's a Kinect color camera driver. Additionally, there's other new drivers, support for new remote controls, driver enhancements, and DVB API support for the DVB-T2 standard. The Kinect driver though is what's most interesting.

This current GSPCA dirver for the Microsoft Kinect hardware is based upon the code from the OpenKinect project. For now it just takes advantage of the RGBA sensor or the output from the mono-chrome sensor, but it doesn't handle the processed depth stream yet. Basically, in its current form you can use your Microsoft Kinect as a web-camera or an IR camera with the "Linux 3.0" kernel.

The Kinect driver related commits can be found from this Git web search. Here's the commit adding in the driver. Below is the commit message with more details.
[media] gspca - kinect: New subdriver for Microsoft Kinect

The Kinect sensor is a device used by Microsoft for its Kinect project, which is a system for controller-less Human-Computer interaction targeted for Xbox 360.

In the Kinect device, RGBD data is captured from two distinct sensors: a regular RGB sensor and a monochrome sensor which, with the aid of a IR structured light, captures what is finally exposed as a depth map; so what we have is basically a Structured-light 3D scanner.

The Kinect gspca subdriver just supports the video stream for now, exposing the output from the RGB sensor or the unprocessed output from the monochrome sensor; it does not deal with the processed depth stream yet, but it allows using the sensor as a Webcam or as an IR camera (an external source of IR light might be needed for this use).

The low level implementation is based on code from the OpenKinect project (http://openkinect.org).

About The Author
Michael Larabel is the principal author of Phoronix.com and founded the web-site in 2004 with a focus on enriching the Linux hardware experience and being the largest web-site devoted to Linux hardware reviews, particularly for products relevant to Linux gamers and enthusiasts but also commonly reviewing servers/workstations and embedded Linux devices. Michael has written more than 10,000 articles covering the state of Linux hardware support, Linux performance, graphics hardware drivers, and other topics. Michael is also the lead developer of the Phoronix Test Suite, Phoromatic, and OpenBenchmarking.org automated testing software. He can be followed via and or contacted via .
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