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DepthJS is a browser extension (currently Chrome) that allows the Microsoft Kinect to talk to any web page. It provides the low-level raw access to the Kinect as well as high-level hand gesture events to simplify development.

Current Status

Everything is VERY alpha. Hand detection and tracking are reasonably robust, but recognizing gestures is less reliable.

So far we can recognize the following:

  • Presence of hand (registration)
  • Removal of hand (unregistration)
  • Hand movement
  • Quick open and close of hand ("hand click")
  • Large swipe up/down/left/right

We want to recognize:

  • Two hands
  • Pushing and pulling
  • Z-depth in general
  • Individual fingers
  • Finger-based hand gestures (e.g. peace sign, etc)


DepthJS is very modular. The Kinect driver and computer vision are written on top of Open Frameworks and OpenCV in C++. This component can output the raw RGB image, the raw depth map (filtered for the hand), as well as the high-level events that the computer vision recognizes. The three outputs are pumped out on three separate 0MQ TCP sockets. Next, a Torando web server (written in Python) takes the 0MQ data and wraps it into a WebSocket, which is what enables the web browser extension to receive the data. Finally a pure javascript-based extension connects to the WebSocket server to receive the events. Event handlers may be placed globally, in content scripts injected into each web page, or pushed via the content script to local DOM elements written by 3rd parties.

BACKEND: Kinect ====(libfreekinect)====> OpenFramework+OpenCV =====(0MQ)====> Tornado

FRONTEND: Torando <====(WebSocket)==== DepthJS extension ====(Javascript+DOM events)====> Any web page

Future work

In addition to the obvious improvements to our gesture recognition, we need to make the install process easier for end-users.

We like that the backend is very modular, so that anything (not just DepthJS) can connect via 0MQ or WebSockets to the C++ Kinect+OpenCV backend.

However, this is not a user friendly setup. We want to eventually integrate the entire driver+backend into an NPAPI-based native code extension such that we can distribute the extension "batteries-included" as a one-click install. Eventually it should be hosted on the various web browser (Safari, Firefox, and Chome) extension galleries.