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What Is a Kinect® Power Adapter?

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  • Written By: Jeremy Laukkonen
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 14 September 2016
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A Kinect® power adapter is a device that is required in order to use a Kinect® motion sensor with one of the original Xbox 360™ consoles. These adapters consist of a wall plug, male universal serial bus (USB) connector and female Kinect® jack. The motor and infrared (IR) laser components within a Kinect® motion sensing device require more voltage than is typically available over USB, which is why a power adapter is necessary. It is also possible to splice a 12 volt power source into a USB cable to create a homemade Kinect® power adapter. The redesigned Xbox 360™ comes with a special powered jack on the back side that is specifically designed for use with the Kinect®, so an adapter is unnecessary for these consoles.

The Kinect® is a peripheral device for Xbox 360™ consoles that is capable of sensing motion and accepting voice commands. These devices contain a few components that require 12 volts direct current (DC) to operate, such as an IR laser and motor. Rather than having a dedicated wall plug to supply power, the Kinect® is capable of drawing 12v DC from the redesigned Xbox 360™ console over the same cable it uses to communicate. To accomplish this, a modified USB port was included in the console redesign. Since this modified port is capable of supplying the normal USB voltage in addition to a higher 12 volts, an adapter is required to use the Kinect with the original Xbox 360™ system.

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There are three main components in each Kinect® power adapter. The first is a modified USB receptacle, which the Kinect® plugs into. These jacks are identical to the modified ports that the redesigned Xbox 360™ consoles have. Two different cables are connected to the jack, one of which terminates in a traditional USB plug. The other cable connects to a wall plug that contains a transformer capable of converting the alternating current (AC) into 12v DC.

When a Kinect® power adapter is connected up, the wall plug provides 12v DC directly to the Kinect®, while the USB cable allows the device to communicate with an Xbox 360™. The voltage from the wall plug does not interact with the traditional USB connection and should not feed back into the console. With this in mind, it is possible to create a Kinect® power adapter from a USB cable and a 12v DC power source. These two components can be spliced directly into the Kinect® cable, or a more traditional adapter can be created with the addition of a stripped down USB receptacle.

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