Scott Hanselman

Signing into Windows 10 with your Face - Using an Xbox One Kinect with Windows Hello

December 19, 2015 Comment on this post [17] Posted in Musings | Win10
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The original version of the Kinect camera had an Xbox version and a PC version, and this sucked for a few reasons. Fast forward to the days of Xbox One, and the Kinect v2 for Xbox One has changed a lot. It has a 1080p color camera, IR capabilities that are separate from color, a wider FOV (field of view), and can track 6 skeletons. AND, most importantly, you can use your existing Xbox One Kinect with your PC with an adapter. No need for a second Kinect. The Kinect Adapter for Windows is $50 and took me 5 min to set up. It's basically a power brick and a USB 3 bridge to your PC.

You do need a decent machine to handle the Kinect for Xbox One, so there's a Kinect Configuration Verifier Tool that can quickly tell you if you're up to spec. If you are developing applications, download and install the free SDK 2.0. It's worth getting this even if you aren't, if only to see the cool stuff your Kinect can see about you.

A Kinect can see you in 3D

The Kinect knows too much!

Setting up your Kinect v2 to support Windows Hello on your Windows 10 PC

Here's how you setup Windows Hello. It's pretty awesome because my home computer unlocks and logs in when I sit down and look at it.

  • Update the Registry to get Drivers that aren't available yet. Make a text file "kinectdrivers.reg" and put this text in it. Double-click it to import into your Registry.
Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00
  • If you've already set up your Kinect, refresh it's drivers in the Device Manager.
    1. Open Device Manager (Windows Key + X, then press M)
    2. Expand “Kinect sensor devices”.
    3. Right-click on "WDF KinectSensor Interface 0"
    4. Click "Update Driver Software..."
    5. Click "Search automatically for updated driver software"
    6. Allow it to download and install the new driver
    7. Reboot
  • Set up Windows Hello. Press the Start button and type "hello" or "face sign-in" and you'll get here. You'll want to setup a PIN first.
Windows Hello

Run through the wizard, except look nicer than this.


You're all set! Now when you sit at your computer and see the Lock Screen, it will look for you.

Privacy Note: The camera isn't on and looking all the time. It's just looking when the screen is locked AND the screen saver (power saver) isn't going. Additionally, the Kinect light will turn on showing you that it's on. It's not streaming your face to any remote servers, it's using what it knows about your face as a key to unlock secure storages locally.

Making sure it's you

Then you just hit the space bar or click the mouse and you're in!

It is! Hello!

Windows Hello is also built into the Surface Pro 4 and the SurfaceBook, but you can add this functionality to your PC with a Kinect...OR....

If you don't want a Kinect + Adapter or a new PC, you can buy an eye tracker like the Tobii Eye Controller or the SteelSeries Gaming Eye Tracker. Tobii just added support for Windows 10 with Windows Hello to their controller! So for $139 you could get a nice upgrade to your PC with face recognition, not to mention all the other cool stuff a Tobii can do!

Tobii Eye Tracker adds Windows Hello to your PC

The Tobii $139 device can let you (or a disabled relative) control your computer with just your eyes. There's a wonderful open source tool called OptiKey that helps folks with Motor Neuron disease or ALS control their Windows machines, and I had the developer on my podcast recently. Definitely check it out as a compelling and accurate alternative way to control your PC!

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About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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December 19, 2015 3:15
The new Lumia 950 also has Hello. It works fine most of the time and is generally quicker than I expected, probably not quick enough yet though for full time use on a phone. Is the PC experience good enough to replace password entry?
December 19, 2015 3:53
@Wayne the PC experience is so fast (on my SP4) that I sometimes wish it was slower to allow a better look at the lock screen image
December 19, 2015 3:58
Ha ha, too slow, too fast, consumers are never happy.
December 19, 2015 9:45
That registry key looks quite generic. Any idea what other beta drivers this might end up enabling?
December 19, 2015 12:15
To answer my own question, yes, very generic:

Appears this will cause Windows Update to download any new test drivers available for any hardware on your client machine. Interesting, but scary from a stability perspective. Don't think I'll risk this for my daily driver.
December 19, 2015 13:18
Nice :) Do you guys know any windows apps that use Kinect? I wanted to get it, for the coolness factor of technology, but I couldn't find any uses or content for it.
December 19, 2015 13:27
What if you grow a massive beard between logons?! :)
December 19, 2015 17:14
The think I've never gotten about facial recognition authentication is that someone could literally just hold up a picture of you. But I suppose this is different because it uses three dimensional detection and not just analyzing a two dimensional picture say like on Android.
December 20, 2015 0:31
Well, that was easy.
December 21, 2015 5:49
Besides the Windows Hello unlock/login feature, what else can I do if I connect a Kinect Sensor for Xbox One to my computer with a Kinect Adapter for Windows? Will it work as a camera and microphone for Skype?
December 21, 2015 7:54
wow, the windows ten very different from windows 7 :D great operating system
December 21, 2015 9:05
mistopportunity - No, the difference is this. These are DEPTH cameras. They can see not just in 2D but in 3D. They KNOW when they are being shown a picture because a picture doesn't have a nose, sunken eyes, etc. You can even (as an administrator) require the user to turn their head left and right to PROVE they aren't a picture before it logs them in.
December 21, 2015 19:39
How fast is it? On the SP4, if I leave it plugged in and running on my table, by the time I've sat down in front of it, it's already logged in and dismissed the lock screen, ready to be used.
December 21, 2015 20:08
But Scott, you do realize 3D printers do exist, right? And as of late, they're come by for very little. I'd wager, you can hold up a 3D printed head or busk (with photorealistic color sprinkles, of course) for the purpose just the same. I'd even go so far, as it not needing to be of the same physical size to make that work. And a 3D representation of a face is easily obtained from a picture, requiring two pictures with positioning information (easily guessed from their view) of the subject for accuracy and three at most. Chances are those can be obtained without the subject knowing.
And to go totally rogue sci-fi on you... nah, I better not. That's just scary.
December 23, 2015 20:18
Hi Scott, I don't know the best means of communicating this. But there is a bug on the comments to your most recent post on 3D printing. It appears that the last comment, with a link to PrintShape has wrapped your Add Comment section in an 'a' tag redirecting all clicks into the form to the PrintShape website. I thought I would let you know, I hope this finds you well!

January 04, 2016 20:15
Can I do some of the eye tracking features (like dimming the screen when not looking at it) if using the Kinect XBOne camera?
March 01, 2016 4:50
im used windows 7 in my PC. so far is so good. maybe i'll try to used windows 10 next time

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed herein are my own personal opinions and do not represent my employer's view in any way.