Kinect Skeletal Tracking

Momin Al-Ghosien, Matt Bronder, Robert Craig, Mark Finoocchio, Alex Kipman, Samuel Mann, Parham Mohadijer, Craig Peeper, and Jamie Shotton

2012 Outstanding Technical Achievement
Through remarkable collaboration, stunning creativity, and nothing short of technological genius, the Skeletal Tracking team went beyond all expectations to deliver the magic of Kinect.

The Skeletal Tracking team was faced with a staggering challenge: To create software that let the Kinect depth camera account for 1023 special variables at any given moment.

In practical terms, could Kinect offer the same experience in a cruise ship cabin as it would in a presidential suite? Could a football player and his 3-year-old son immerse themselves equally in the Kinect universe? Could it work for every person, in every household, without any changes in calibration?

It didn't just pose huge technological complexities—the 1023 challenge also came with enormous risk, according to Robert Craig, who heads up the KST team. To tackle it all, the team would need engineers who could also act as researchers, scientists, artists, and inventors. "You need to have a level of entrepreneurial spirit, a level of creativity, a level of passion that's very different than the norm of wicked-smart people," explains Alex Kipman. "You are at Microsoft. Everyone is wicked smart. Being wicked smart is no longer a differentiator. Inventing stuff that's never been invented, stuff that other people think is impossible—that needed to be in the team's DNA."

As engineers, the team was able to ace the 1023 challenge. But it was their love of innovation that really brought the project home. In the face of adversity, their unwavering passion made them stronger and more dedicated than ever. "A lot of people were intimidated by the scope of the problem or the scope of the work, and some people chose to distance themselves,” explains Momin Al-Ghosien. "We knew that if it had any chance of success, we had to give it all that we could, to be all-in on it."

Success is an understatement. Today, Kinect is considered a world record-breaking hit, with sales topping more than 18 million units, and the "Kinect Effect" has opened up endless possibilities for more developers, applications, and industries, going well beyond the Kinect for living room entertainment.