For a little effort you can expand the opportunities for using the Kinect three fold by downloading Processing. Like the Kinect Processing is world wide, like the programs on the main page it is also free, and all these wonderful interactive programs will cost your special needs school setting nothing.
Processing is a coding platform designed for artists and graphic designers. It is open source and free and can be downloaded onto PC's or Macs. You then run the Processing program and you can either write your own program or 'sketch' or, and this is where the ease comes in, you can download and open someone else's sketch from the Internet. Lots and lots of the Processing resources are open source and so free.
You just press the play button and it'll run as a java program (Java runs the graphics in those little animation windows you get on the internet). You WILL need to download some Kinect 'libraries' and save them in your Processing folder as some sketches need these files to run. It IS an easy process and once the main ones are there you will be good to go. There is always help from us lot if you need it too.

Here is the link to the Getting Started with Processing book by Casey Reas and Ben Fry - great introduction to coding in processing -Getting Started with Processing

Ceri Williams' which will help you with installing the PC version of Processing and the drivers:
See James' site too for some further information:

Getting Started
It is really easy, don't be put off by the strange terminology, it's really easy to get going. This website link is superb and it will tell you everything you need to get started:

It tells you a little bit more about Processing and the kinect too. It also has links to the Openkinect libraries that you will need and step by step instructions to installing a library in Processing.

You will also need to go to this link:

and download the Open NI Nite Installer file on the left list that fits your computer type AND the SimpleOpenNI zip file at the bottom of the list.

Again there are super simple to follow instructions here:

This site will take you step by step through installing Processing, the libraries and the Open NI too.
The SimpleOpenNI file needs to go into your processing libraries folder, it explains all that on the site too!

At the end you should have Processing installed on your computer, the Open NI drivers, and the Openkinect and SimpleOpenNI libraries in your Processing folder. Then you are pretty much good to go. Start downloading and playing with these sketches. The first three alone are worth all that installing!

Air Paint
This is a good art/ painting program from Barkley Labs in America- see all the info on it here:
kinect paint e.JPGmissouri paint kinect.JPG
You paint with your hands- the colours change on their own and a key press blanks the screen. Easy.
Tracking is okay with wheelchairs but only if there are good arm movements. Email me for the sketch. Needs OpenNI and Fullscreen library installed.

Kinect Flow

More awesome than a box of frogs this sketch from Amnon Owed turns you into a wavy line infested outline. See the info here:
For this and Kinect Physics below you'll need the BlobDetection library from here:
The Toxiclibs library from here:
and Shiffmans pbox2D library (follow link in the 'readme' box):
I've combined the text on the main link into the proper .pde file:

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Kinect Flow in action in the ICT room!

Kinect Physics

The second interactive kinect sketch from Amnon, this pours shapes over you, wave your arms to collect them, drop them, bat them out of the way. The tracking is very good, will work for wheelchairs and two users (though it goes slightly dodgy at times).
Full combined .pde is here:

One armed while taking a screenshot view!

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What it should look like!

If you want the shapes to flow upwards, this is the full .pde for that:

Both of these programs are going to be great fun to try out in school.

The Kinect Visual Effects Generator

This is by Javier Gracia Carpio. It is awesome! The download is here:

There are also two other libraries to install, ControlP5 and Toxiclibs (you should already have the simple-openni). The links to these are on the same page above, as is a vimeo clip to watch, which you should.
Run the sketch. Then you get four menus. By playing around with the buttons and bars you can do some really excellent things and create some lovely effects like these:
kinect 3 screen.png
Yes, there's three of each pupil! The 'follow' setting has a time delay so two more of you show up and copy what you just did. It's really good to interact with, you can set it to colour people like above, or real colour camera shots. The pupils really love using this, it is full body tracking and multiple users can use it. The above example is of a teenage boy with ASD using it with a boy from KS2, they really got interacting together on it and did some creative stuff!

The 'balls' setting means you can shoot coloured balls out of your fingers!

The 'sculpture' setting lets you draw a 3D tube- and I mean one that draws in the 3D space of your room, so when you finish you can walk into it. This will be a bit trickier for some pupils to use, but some should love being able to draw and then walk into it!
The 'sand' setting makes your image turn into sand and fall to the floor in little piles. You can still move around and see yourself but where you have been just falls to the floor in little pieces. I love this one, it's whole body tracking too. You can set an artificial floor and the pupils could crouch down, then pop up into the effect and start melting.

This is an awesome sensory graphic from a man called Memo Akten, it's similar to some of the iPad fluid apps that you can get. It's a library for Processing which can be found here:
You'll also need a program called TUIO, download from here: (Mac and PC versions)
Instructions are here: Basically you run TUIO, open up Processing, find the MSAFluid libary example, run it and it's kinect enabled. Depth options too. Awesome, interactive and all free!
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Evil Twin

This Processing sketch for the Kinect is by Adityo Pratomo, information with a video can be found here, as well as a download link:
Requires the Openkinect library mentioned above by Daniel Shiffman.
As you can see below, run the sketch and you have a mirrored coloured twin to play with! I saw something similar with the new Somantics programs and mirroring the pupil is a feature of the Kaleidoscope Somantics program and some pupils love to interact with their mirrored selves.

evil twin.png

Bubble Boy2

Nice little interactive sketch by Mike Newell. It turns you into a big colourful blob! Move around and it moves with you. Download sketch from:
See I told you so!


There are plenty of Kinect programs on the other page to keep your school busy for months and months, these resources done through Processing will begin to extend the choice and range however. The more programs up our sleeves the more likely we are to get engagement from our pupils and find the right one they respond to (and that responds to them!)

This is the logical next step for our group looking at using the Kinect in special needs schools. If it doesn't exist already and you want it, then make it yourself! There's Ceri, Keith, James and I all working with the same platform for the same purpose now so expect a load of free interactive kinect programs for special needs schools soon!
Click here for our Processing Sketches.