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Using a Kinect 360 as a 3D Scanner


An easy and cheap way to get into basic 3D scanning is to use a Kinect for the Xbox 360. This simple consumer device was designed to use structured light to track the human body, but it can be engineered to serve as a basic 3D scanner.

First Steps & Troubleshooting

Your Xbox 360 Kinect

A PC & AC adapter.

The latest version of Windows Kinect SDK

A 3D scanning program like Skanect or ReconstructMe. We’ll be using Skanect.

A fast computer with a decent GPU and CPU.

Updated drivers for your graphics card.

1) Update the drivers for your specific card. AMD and NVIDIA (the two major GPU manufacturers), both have excellent auto-detect driver applications. Just download them and click through the steps. You can find AMD’s auto-installer here and NVIDIAs’ here.

2) Make sure your Kinect is unplugged. Install the Kinect SDK.

3) Install Skanect.

4) Plug in your scanner and open Skanect to see if it’s detected. If it’s not, try restarting your machine.

Kinect Isn’t Registering:

  1. Unplug your Kinect, restart your computer, then plug in your Kinect. Start Skanect.
  2. Make sure the device is actually installed. Go to your Start menu, type “Device Manager” and find the Kinect in the list under “Kinect for Windows”. If there are any yellow triangles or you do not see any of the following devices, right click on what you do see and select “Uninstall”.
    1. Kinect for Windows Audio Array Control
    2. Kinect for Windows Camera
    3. Kinect for Windows Security Control


…then right click on what you do see and select “Uninstall”. Unplug your Kinect, restart, re-install the SDK, restart, plug in the Kinect and then launch Skanect.


1) Set your bounding box. The smaller your box, the more detail you can pick up. Often you can stitch multiple smaller, more detailed scans together to create a larger scan of a big object.

However no matter what your bounding box is, your scanner will have a minimum and maximum distance it can be from an object. Play with it until the majority of your object is visible in the preview window.

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