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Microsoft is a company known for its ingenuity in a variety of fields. Up till the year of 2000, the gaming industry was dominated by Sony and Nintendo so when Microsoft stepped into the fray, the reception was ambivalent and lukewarm at best. However, the original Xbox managed to become a hit, with exclusives that appealed to a vast and esoteric audience. The follow up consoles to the original Xbox like Xbox 360 and Xbox One were phenomenal as well. However, it was the addition of certain accoutrements that elevated the appeal of these aforementioned consoles to a notably eminent degree. Probably one of the most prominent and innovative of these accessories was none other than the Microsoft Kinect.

The Microsoft Kinect was designed as a foil to Nintendo’s Wii. While one can remember the Kinect as a device for interfacing with motion oriented games, the latter has managed to evolve its initially constricted degree of functioning. The Microsoft Kinect has now become one of the most popular and widely utilized devices for 3D Scanning.

The Microsoft Kinect is an effectual device to be converted into a DIY 3D scanner. Those of you who are interested in mixing the formula up a bit when it comes to 3D scanning; this is certainly the method for you. In this discussion, we will discuss the process of turning your Kinect into a 3D scanner and provide guidance as well. Now be forewarned that this process will probably not yield results commensurate with the ones that you attain through a professionally pertinent machine but hey… least it won’t be as pricey either. A pro costs about 2000 dollars at the minimum. So instead of opting for the more extravagant option, why not give the Kinect a chance as well.

Before we proceed, it’s unfortunate to know that the Kinect is only compatible with Windows. So, Mac users might feel a bit left out. But don’t worry; if Mac users manage to get their hands on a Primesense Scanner, then they too can start scanning as well. The Primesense Scanner is not so expensive itself. It only costs about 100 dollars more than Kinect and is compatible for operation with both Windows and Mac. It comes with the benefit of supporting a bit better resolution than the Kinect.

So, without further ado, let’s get started.

Items Needed:

Before you begin, you will need the following items:

  • A Microsoft Xbox 360 Kinect
  • Windows Kinect SDK v1.6
  • Meshlab
  • You will also need a 3D scanning app like Skanect or ReconstructMe. You can also use Skanect in large part due to its convenience of utilization and is rather inexpensive in nature. For those of you, who wish to get a taste of the professional style of scanning, why not go for the demo version of Artec ScanStudio.
  • You might need some newer AC adapters if your Kinect is of an updated version.
  • Make sure that you also have a fast and soundly efficient computer.
  • You will also need a strong and able graphics card. Make sure that you have the updated graphics drivers for your card as well.


  1. The first step in your journey to 3D scanning with Kinect requires that you update your Graphics drivers. If you can’t do so manually then fret not….for both NVIDIA and AMD have splendid auto detect graphics installation applications as well.
  2. Now you need to make sure that your Kinect is unplugged. Now the next thing that you should do is install the Kinect SDK drivers.
  3. The next phase will involve installment of a proper scanning program. For beginners, programs like Skanect are pretty much adequate.
  4. Now, connect your Kinect to your PC. Make sure that you connect it properly and firmly.
  5. Now, plug in the scanner and in order to make sure that it is detected, launch the scanning program of your choice. If it’s still not detected, than restart your PC and that will probably solve the problem.
  6. Now let’s move on to the actual scanning procedure. Firstly, you need to set your bounding box. Remember, the smaller the box, the more detail you can capture. Still, it matters little how large or small your bounding box is as the Kinect has a minimum and maximum setting for distance from an object. Just keep adjusting until the greater part of your target is visible in the preview window.
  7. Now start with the actual recording. Proceed slowly around the object till you have captured all of the desired data. There might originate an instance where the scan becomes misaligned. In such cases, try to line up the black and white image overlay with the tangible data up to the point where it snaps back into the proper form. It is also possible that you will have to initiate numerous scans to capture everything.
  8. Stop the recording in this phase with the relevant button in your scanning program. Now move on to the reconstruction and processing stages. Here you can not only combine your scans together but can also add color as well.
  9. Let’s proceed to save and export your finished product. Many scanning applications allow exporting to .PLY, .STL, and .OBJ. Once you have saved in the format of your liking, upload the product to a program like Lagoa so as to impart some color to your scanned model.
  10. If you want to further improve upon and refine your work, then Meshlab is the application for you. An excellent tool for editing, Meshlab allows you to convert your file into a variety of different formats as well. It is highly convenient when you are dealing with 3D scan and print data. You can easily download Meshlab free from the internet.

Meshlab can help you in the following ways:

  1. It allows for removal of unwanted parts of the finished model.
  2. It allows you to align multiple scans too.

Now that you have got the scans, you can do tons with them. Why, you can Reverse Engineer them, modify them, print them through a 3D printer, render and upload them or simply share it. Its all up to you and your predilections.

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1 Comment
  1. Daniel F says

    Misspelled Kinect there 😉 but i see you fixed it! This is not my area but i think its good you added the video tutorial on connecting kinect as a 3d scanner.

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