How to Hook Kinect Up to a PC
By Elisha Bates
Updated September 22, 2017
Items you will need
Kinect sensor for Xbox 360
Kinect USB adapter
Windows 7 PC
Your Kinect doesn't have to be tethered to your Xbox 360 forever. There are now two ways to connect your Kinect to your Windows PC, including Microsoft's release of the developer's kit for the Kinect, which is the official PC software that developer's use. OpenKinect provides a second, less official, open source experience.
Kinect for Windows SDK (beta)
Hook up your Kinect to your Windows 7 PC via USB port, just as you would when connecting it to the Xbox 360's USB port (you may be more familiar with this as the port that charges controllers).
Download the official software from the Microsoft website. It installs easily in just a few minutes.
Explore the SDK tools. This software gives you access to raw data directly from the Kinect sensor streams, and skeletal tracking ability.
Download the OpenKinect drivers and extract them from their compressed (.zip/.rar) file to a new folder on your hard drive.
Connect the sensor via USB, then launch Device Manager from your Windows Start Menu. Windows will attempt, and fail, to auto-detect the Kinect.
Under "Other Devices" in Device Manager, find "Xbox NUI Motor" and right click. You will be given the option to update the driver for the device. This is where the OpenKinect drivers come in to play. Select "Browse My Computer for driver software," then press the "Browse..." button to select the folder with the OpenKinect drivers from Step 1.
Return to Device Manager, where you should see the updated drivers. Select them for installation.
Return to the folder containing the extracted OpenKinect files. Select the folder inside for Kinect Demos, then select KinectDemo.exe. You should now have access to live data from the Kinect sensor streams.
Be sure to save all files in folders where they can be easily found. In many cases, the USB adapter may be sold separately from the Kinect sensor itself.
The SDK file is generally geared towards developers and hobbyists, and is for experimental, non-commercial use. As of the time of publication, Microsoft promises to release a more commercial, easy to use version of official Kinect software soon.
Elisha Bates is a graduate of Rhodes College in Memphis, Tenn., where he earned a B.A. in English literature, creative writing and film studies. He enjoys writing about literature, creative writing and all things pop-culture related.