9 Incredible Developments for Kinect in Education

For those of us raised in typical school settings, the memory of straight-row desks with little activity is all too familiar.  As we’re all aware, the Kinect has the potential to evolve classrooms beyond this 18th century model of learning to a structure that’s aligned with brain research and the benefits of active learning.

With the release of the noncommercial Kinect SDK, several new Kinect applications are emerging.  These range from simple apps (such as creating “3D air drawings”) to more complex applications (such as sign language recognition).  Regardless, every single one of these developments has the potential to drastically enhance teaching and learning in all learning environments. 

Here are nine key developments that reveal the educational value of Kinect in education.  These are only a handful of applications being developed; the exclusion of any educational developments does not mean that it’s not warranted to be listed here, but rather hasn’t received the exposure that this list has. As a side note, some of the developments listed below are still in development and are therefore not yet available to download.

Do you have an app you’d like to submit for download or link to?  Submit it to the Kinect Apps for Education or contact me.



1. Arkaos: Assistive Technology

This is a development by Tom Smurthwaite.  Here is a description of Arkaos from KinectHacks:

[Arkaos is] a little experiment into using the Kinect with individuals with special needs. I’ve had enormous success using Arkaos to provide meaningful activities, generally controlled by Soundbeam via MIDI or with switches, but I really think Kinect is the future.

ArKaos is an application for live visual performance, conceived as a visual sampler for video loops that can be triggered from the computer, or through a hardware interface. The application is available in two versions: ArKaos VJ MIDI, conceived as a live video performance instrument, often used in conjunction with a MIDI keyboard, and ArKaos VJ DMX (a “media server software”), which can be controlled with a DMX console (DMX512 is a communication standard used for stage lighting devices).

Direct Video Link

Kinect and FAAST Controlling Arkaos


2. Synapse for Kinect: Use Your Body as a Musical Instrument

Not only is this guy brilliant, he’s willing to share his developments for anyone to download.  Furthermore, he makes it easy for end-users to get quickly started.  Using Synapse for Kinect, users can “become” a musical instrument.

Direct Video Link

Synapse for Kinect


3.  Kinect Key Bindings: Kinect Development for Everyone

Admittedly, this is my favorite development because it allows anyone to take new or existing software and make it Kinect compatible.  Given the plethora of software available, I feel it’s safe to assume that there are several applications that could be made Kinect-compatible for classroom integration.  Below is a video guide detailing how to get started:

Direct Video Link

Teacher’s Guide to Kinect Development


4.  Avatar Kinect: Augmented Learning Environments

With Avatar Kinect, students will be able to globally connect with others.  Combining a virtual lobby with full facial and body tracking, students can control their avatars in augmented learning environments with users around the world.  Is it too early to see this in mainstream classrooms?  Considering how long it’s taking many schools to adopt Twitter, Skype and other similar services, perhaps.  But as classroom technology evolves, I would expect to see more of this technology integrated in mainstream classrooms within the next few years.

Direct Video Link

Avatar Kinect is set to be released in July of 2011.


5.  CopyCat: Language Learning Tool

This isn’t a new development, but it’s worth noting again to build awareness of how far-reaching this development is.  The same underlying development could be applied to helping learners acquire proper mechanical skills across a variety of different fields, such as sports.

Direct Video Link



6.  DaVinci for Kinect: Physics-Based Tool

DaVinci for Kinect, developed by Rocketfish, is illustration software that incorporates physics.  Users can create drawings, such as lines, see-saws, and balls, and then add physics to their creations… a sure hit in any physics classrooms.

Direct Video Link



7.  Scratch and Kinect: More Kinect Development for Everyone

Key bindings are a great way to make existing software Kinect compatible; Scratch is a great way to build simple Kinect-compatible applications from the ground-up.  The great news is that like key bindings, anybody can program using Scratch and Kinect.  I’m excited to see the progress of this project and look forward to future developments. 

Direct Video Link

Scratch and Kinect


8.  Avatar Puppteering

Digital storytelling in 3.0 fashion.  With iClone and Kinect, teachers and students will be able to interact with virtual objects and scenes in real-time.

Direct Video Link

Reallusion’s Website


9.  Gesture-Based Navigation

Navigating through virtual locations can now be performed using gestures.  Will this lead to increased academic gain?  Once this is fully-supported, I believe so.  For now, it appears to be an innovative way to present content which will undoubtedly at least have a limited novel effect.

Direct Video Link

Johnny Kissko


Are you aware of any applications that have educational value?  Submit or link to it in the KinectEDucation Apps for Education.


Stay up-to-date with Kinect developments in education by following the KinectEDucation Facebook page.


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