PrimeSenseâ„¢ is launching the OpenNIâ„¢ organization, an open effort to help foster "Natural Interaction"â„¢ applications. As part of this effort, PrimeSense is releasing open source drivers for the RGB-D sensor that powers the Kinectâ„¢ and other devices such as PrimeSense's Development Kit 5.0 (PSDK 5.0) and are making the HW available for the OpenNI developers community! This will unlock full support for their sensor and also provide a commercially supported implementation. They are also releasing an open-source OpenNI API, which provides a common middleware for applications to access RGB-D sensors. Finally, they are releasing Windows and Linux binaries for the NITE skeleton-tracking library, which will enable developers to use OpenNI to create gesture and other natural-interaction applications. We at Willow Garage have been working with PrimeSense to help launch the open-source drivers and are happy to join PrimeSense in leading the OpenNI organization.
PrimeSense's RGB-D sensor is the start of a bright future of mass-market available 3D sensors for robotics and other applications. The OpenNI organization will foster and accelerate the use of 3D perception for human-computer/robot interaction, as well as help future sensors, libraries, and applications remain compatible as these technologies rapidly evolve.
For the past several weeks, we've been working with members of the libfreenect/OpenKinect community to provide open-source drivers, and we have already begun work to quickly integrate PrimeSense's contributions with these efforts. We will be using the full sensor API to provide better data for computer vision libraries, such as access to the factory calibration and image registration. We are also working on wrapping the NITEâ„¢ skeleton and handpoint tracking libraries into ROS. Having access to skeleton tracking will bring about "Minority Report" interfaces even faster. The common OpenNI APIs will also help the open-source community easily exchange libraries and applications that build on top. We've already seen many great RGB-D hacks -- we can't wait to see what will happen with the full power of the sensor and community unleashed.
This release was made possible by the many efforts of the open-source community. PrimeSense was originally planning on releasing these open-source drivers later, but the huge open-source Kinect community convinced them to accelerate their efforts and release now. They will be doing a more "formal" release in early 2011, but this initial access should give the developer community many new capabilities to play with over the holidays. As this is an early "alpha" release, we are still integrating the full capabilities and the ROS documentation is still being prepared. Stay tuned for some follow-up posts on how to start using these drivers and NITE with ROS.
PrimeSense's PSDK 5.0 is available separately and has several advantages for robotics: it is powered solely by USB, and the sensor package is smaller and lighter than the Kinect. This simplifies integration and will be important for use in smaller robots like quadrotors. PrimeSense is making a limited number of PrimeSense developer kits available for purchase. Please visit here to sign up to purchase the PSDK5.0.
You can visit OpenNI.org to find out more about the OpenNI organization and get binaries builds of these releases. Developers interested in working with the source code can checkout the repositories on GitHub and join the discussion groups at at groups.google.com/group/openni-dev. For more information about OpenNI, please visit OpenNI.org. To follow the efforts of the ROS community and Kinect, please join the
ros-kinect mailing list.