Sunday, 30 December 2012 23:18

Use Kinect with Mac OSX

In this article I will show how you can use Microsoft Kinect for xBox 360 on Mac OSX. In this way you can create applications that interact with the body's movements.



This article is intended for people who have a lot of experience in the Information Technology area, both as a developer and as systems engineer, especially on unix systems. In fact, the installation of the drivers may be a little tricky, especially if something does not go the first time.

I warn you... there are some commands to run with the terminal, I do not take any responsibility if with these commands (or connecting the kinect) you will damage your Mac. However, if you are familiar with the shell (and unix systems) you should not have problems.

The version of Kinect that i have is sold separately from the xBox. It has the power and the USB adapter included in the package. If you have the version bundled with the latest xBox (that doesn't have the adapter with the power supply), you will need this device from the Amazon website.

I connected the Kinect to an iMac with OSX 10.7.4 64-bit. However, if you read the whole article you'll be able to adapt the installation process on different systems without much effort.

Well, now that I have described the tools used for testing, we can install and configure the software and drivers required.


Driver and SDK

Before proceeding you should know that there are several available API and SDK for Kinect. However, the two main SDK are OpenNI and OpenKinect. The first is maintained by the company PrimeSence who developed the technology behind the Kinect, OpenKinect instead is a group of people who formed a community called OpenKinect which issued the library libfreenect.
There is also the official SDK released by Microsoft, but unfortunately it only works on Windows operating systems. I will analyze that in the next articles.

For this tutorial I used OpenNI. This is because that SDK is developed by the company that has created the technology behind the Kinect, and it comes with many examples.
I used a wrapper for Processing (a programming language based on Java) called Simple OpenNI.

Simple OpenNI is a very good project, but I had to make a number of changes to the installation process to adapt it to the version of Mac OSX that I have. All changes are listed below.


Let's start

First of all, open the page with the official procedure to install Simple OpenNI on Mac OSX clicking here. As described above I had to slightly change the installation procedure. Here's how:

  1. I download xcode 4 from here. Then I have installed it.
  2. I download the version 2.1.2 of MacPorts (the version that is shown in the installation guide is too old) from here. Then I have installed it.
  3. I download Java JDK 7 (for Mac OS X x64) from here.
  4. I have opened a terminal and ran the command: sudo port install git-core
    if that command returns the following error:
    Unable to open port: can’t read "build.cmd": Failed to locate ‘make’ in path: '/opt/local/bin:/opt/local/sbin:/bin:/sbin:/usr/bin:/usr/sbin' or at its MacPorts configuration time location, did you move it?
    then you have to start xcode,  go to Preferences -> Download and install the "Command Line Tools", then you can try again the command sudo port install git-core.
  5. Again from terminal I ran the following command: sudo port install libtool
  6. Finally, this: sudo port install libusb-devel +universal
    if that command returns the following error: Please do not install this port since it has been replaced by 'libusb' then you have to run the following commands:
    1. sudo rm -f /opt/local/lib/libusb-1.0.0.dylib
    2. sudo port clean libusb
    3. sudo port install libusb +universal
  7. I download OpenNI_NITE_Installer-OSX from here, I have unzipped it and then ran (inside the unzipped folder) the command sudo ./
    This command will install the driver to allow the proper functioning of Kinect.
  8. I download and installed processing 2.0 for Mac OSX from here. This is because the version 1.5.x has some problem with the latest versions of Mac OSX. We have to do few changes into the source code of the examples provided with Simple OpenNI. Later I'll show you how to do that.
  9. Now we need to download the library SimpleOpenNI for processing from here. I have unzipped ''. In this way we get a folder called SimpleOpenNI. You have to copy the folder SimpleOpenNI into the directory /Users/'your username'/Documents/Processing/libraries. If you don't have this folder then create it. The result is shown in the screenshot below.

The folder SimpleOpenNI also contains several examples that show how to use kinect, of course all written in Processing.


The Code

Connect the Kinect to the wall socket and to the iMac, open Processing and a sample file from /Users/'your username'/Documents/Processing/libraries/SimpleOpenNI/examples/OpenNI. Open the example file User3d.pde from the folder User3d.

If we run the code (nb: you must stand at least 1.5 meters from kinect) we should obtain an image like the one below. You can see a sort of skeleton that follows the movements of my body:


The User3d.pde file (such as those present in the samples folder) is well commented, if you read the code (and the comments), you can learn how to customize the code or create new programs.

You have to make some changes to the source code before try other sample files. You should know that Processing 2.0, unlike earlier versions, does not import some essential libraries that our sample files need.

If you try, for example, to execute the file Hands3d.pde you will receive the error: Cannot find a class or type named "Iterator", as shown in the figure below:

iterator error

To solve this problem we have to import for the object Iterator. I imported the libraries (I need it also for other sample files) and java.util.Iterator. I show you a picture of the two lines that I put into the source code:

If you will receive other exceptions then you need to check on the Internet (or in the official documentation of Java) which library you have to import.

Another example that I tried (and I want recommend to you) is the Slider2d. It allows you to play with some squares on the screen using your hands. Below my test:

As I wrote before, there are many interesting examples into the examples folder of Simple OpenNI. I recommend you to try all files.

Sometimes it happens that processing returns an error regarding kinect disconnection. In that case you have to disconnect and reconnect the device.

As already mentioned the source code is well commented. This will allow you to edit the code according to your needs, you will learn to create new programs.

That's all. Have fun!!!

Alan Pipitone

I am the owner.

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