Microsoft Kinect 3D Scanner In-Depth Review

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Microsoft Kinect

Microsoft Kinect is a simple scanner that’s able to produce decent quality 3d scans at a reasonable price.

User Expectations
  • High-resolution scans
  • Extremely compatible software
  • Easy scanning process
  • Need good lighting to produce good quality scans

The Kinect 3D scanner uses similar 3D scanning technology to photogrammetry. The process consists of taking multiple pictures from different angles of an object. The scanner comprises a camera, an infrared camera that is meant for calculating the field of depth of object as well as around.

Both the cameras used by Kinect permits users to make a decently accurate 3D scan of almost any object that they wish to scan. But how does the scanner rank when seen in terms of value: money ratio? We can only tell by looking at it in-depth. So, let’s get started.


Some of the most valuable features of the scanner are mentioned and explained below.


Because Kinect can be constructed easily and its complete information is available online for free, you don’t need to undergo any complex process of setting it up and shipping it from anywhere. Also, the parts of which Kinect is made up, are comparatively cheaper.

So, if you have a 3D printer all you have to do is buy the components that are necessary to make the scanner run and that’s it. You need not spend much on this scanner.


The complete assembly of components, as well as 3D printing of the necessary parts, can be done on your own. Just refer to the online instructions available to complete the setup.

Kinect can be constructed as other DIY kits and this makes up a great opportunity for all those who are willing to invest time in learning a little deeper about 3D scanning technology.

Easy to use software

Skanect as well as the other software that is compatible with the scanner are extremely user-friendly. Their interface allows you to reach the tool that you are searching for, extremely fast.

Also, the entire system is relatively easy to grasp. Even if you do not have any sort of technical background, it’s fine. You will still be able to operate the scanner pretty easily.


Kinect is an open-sourced 3D scanner. This presents a great opportunity for those who wish to innovate and use a machine for obtaining the kind of work they wish to achieve. Also, it means that nothing is fixed.

The scanner can be scaled according to your project. Moreover, everything is accessible to everyone from the internet.


Kinect is equipped with two cameras that take multiple images of an object that you wish to scan. It needs a PC adapter and a PC to produce high-quality scans of parts and functional prototypes. The device can be connected using a USB port.


Since it’s available as a DIY and needs to be purchased in terms of components, there isn’t any fixed cost for this scanner.

First Impression

microsoft kinect impressionCredit: all3dp

The first thing that you need to do is acquire the required hardware i.e. three things in order to start with the scanner:

  1. The Kinect: can be bought either from Xbox 360 or Xbox One. These are available from almost any electronics shop.
  2. The PC adapter: Because Kinect is made to be used in its respective Xbox and not in a PC like other scanners, you’ll have to obtain a Kinect 360 to PC adapter.
  3. A PC: It can be either a laptop or desktop with a free USB port.

The minimum requirement to get you started is:

  • Latest Kinect drivers downloaded
  • A 64-bit Processor
  • Dual-core (3.1Ghz) or faster CPU
  • A 4GB of Ram
  • Nvidia CUDA graphic card or a Kinect Fusion compatible GPU
  • A compatible USB 3.0 port one that is offered by Intel or Renesas chipset


microsoft kinect setupCredit: all3dp

Although the Kinect needs to undergo some process before starting 3D scanning with the same, it’s good to say that you can plug it into a power source and start scanning. After having plugged it into your PC, you can download its drivers. These codes will instruct your computer on how to handle the Kinect.

For users who are running it on Windows 10, it’s likely that the drivers inside will get downloaded automatically after the recognition of Kinect by your PC. In case this doesn’t happen, simply download the drivers from Microsoft. Other than this, you will have to download software that allows you to use your Kinect for 3D scanning.

To set up Skanect, open the .exe file as soon as it’s downloaded. A simple interface will await you once the process is completed. The setup will take three steps:

  1. Clicking on the New section that’s present on the menu under the title “Prepare.” By doing so, you can mess around with various settings depending on which object you wish to scan.
  2. Choosing the bounding box size that is the most appropriate for the object. Doing so lets you choose from the presets that are already provided. Instead, you can also use a custom one by clicking the slider and moving it with the mouse.
  3. Choosing a path for saving the scanned object. Note that this would not be the final model, but only the .skn file of the same that can be later opened in the Skanect.

After finishing the setup, click the start button to be taken to the next step of the scanning process.

Scan Type

The process of scanning is quite simple. All you need to do is just hover the Kinect 3D scanner around the object as if it were orbiting the part.

While doing so, the software will use the background to help track the position of the object. So, in case you wish to rotate the object, the background will be scanning and will always be the same. This scenario applies especially to photogrammetry and for normal 3D scanning.

Ensure that there is a good amount of lighting during the entire scanning process because bad lighting won’t just make it harder, but also lead to a final render with the poorly colored model. So, take your time and ensure that the scans are done slowly and with patience.

Also, check that Kinect is passed through the entire object from all the angels. This can be done by keeping an eye on your PC. Moreover, scanning makes certain that all the areas of the object are appearing neatly.

Scan Quality

microsoft kinect scan qualityCredit: all3dp

Kinect’s scan quality is just about average. You can see the brightness is very inconsistent. And this is because of its camera not being locked. This means that the scanner will adapt the brightness based on the direction that you’re pointing to the sensor. Also, because the cameras present on the Kinect are at wide angles to each other.

Such an arrangement makes it extremely appropriate for sensing motion as well as the depth of people present in front of the TV playing games. But it has its own downsides i.e. 3D scanning on a manual turntable is almost impossible because the tracking gets confused as your arm enters the frame.


microsoft kinect softwareCredit: all3dp

3D Scan is a free Windows 10 application that uses your Kinect for creating 3D models. It can be downloaded from Microsoft. Other than this, you can use Skanect which is third-party software that is compatible with Kinect. It can be used by subscribing to its free or paid version.

The only difference between both of these is that the latter permits you to export the model with more faces and in color. Skanect can be downloaded from Occipital.

We made a list of The Most Popular 3D Scanning Software that you’re welcome to check.

Customer Support

Kinect customer support is all given by its community of active users. All the solutions to your problems are available online and are accessible for free.

Parameters Influencing Buying Decision

The key factors that’ll help you decide upon the scanner are mentioned below.

3D Scanner Cost: Affordable

3D Scanner Speed: Average

3D Scan Quality: Two cameras make it possible for the scanner to deliver high-quality scans even while processing parts with intricate geometries.

3D Scanner Capability: The scanner is capable of taking multiple images of the object and then combining them to produce a single scan.

3D Scanner Practicality: It can be used for scanning everyday objects of small size and not much complex geometry.

3D Scanner User Expectations: Hobbyists, academicians, and even small manufacturers can use the scanner to achieve good results.

Microsoft Kinect was featured in our article: How to Build a DIY 3D Scanner Step by Step at Home?

The Verdict

In a nutshell, Microsoft Kinect is a simple scanner that’s able to produce decent quality scans at a reasonable price. There isn’t something very fancy about the scanner, at the same time there isn’t something too lacking about the device.

Although it isn’t capable of letting you go in-depth, it doesn’t disappoint by providing bad-quality scans. Even while scanning intricate geometries, the scanner does deliver. So, enjoy the simplicity that suits your pockets.

Editorial Team

Editorial Team

Stay updated on the recent happenings in 3D Printing and be the first to know when an awesome product hits the market.

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