Microsoft has significantly upgraded the sensing capabilities of the second-generation Kinect sensor that will ship with the newly announced Xbox One game console. One example: The Kinect can detect a user’s heart rate optically.

See the video above for a demonstration of the capability during a tour of the Microsoft Xbox campus today. The idea is to incorporate this functionality into exercise programs, as a start, but there are no doubt other applications, as well, and it’s also a sign of just how far the Kinect has come. The feature uses RGB and IR feeds to work.

The new Kinect will ship with every Xbox One later this year. Microsoft hasn’t yet disclosed pricing for the console.

Apart from that, the Kinect has also improved how it senses people and objects in a room. Todd Holmdahl, the Microsoft vice president in charge of Xbox hardware, said the new Kinect capabilities include the ability to send out photons that hit a person and bounce back, allowing the sensor chip to detect objects with much greater accuracy.

Microsoft engineers say another advantage of the new console is that it offers dedicated processing for audio analysis of voice commands via the Kinect.

Related Coverage

Like what you're reading? Subscribe to GeekWire's free newsletters to catch every headline


  • Sir Michael Rocks

    “I see that your heart is beating faster. I know that you are afraid.”

  • guest

    Looks like a significant upgrade, though it took far too long. Kinect’s initial momentum is now gone and they have to start all over. MS also missed the boat when they didn’t come out with a small form factor Kinect sensor for PCs similar to Leap Motion’s. It would have helped adoption of W8 considerably, and provided MS with a nice new revenue stream from licensing it to PC/monitor OEMs.

  • Curious Tyrone

    That’s cool and all, but, would it work with a black guy like me? I’m not sure if it could detect the change in color in my face because of the darker skin tones.

    • Sean

      The infrared segment of the heart rate scanning will still function as normal.

Job Listings on GeekWork