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Ghost Hunters Explain How Xbox Kinect Sees Spirits Inside Haunted Houses

Updated on February 16, 2014
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Microsoft's Kinect 2 Detects More Than Players in Total Darkness

"Ever since the release of the Kinect motion sensor controllers in 2010, gamers have been posting videos of 'Kinect Ghosts' detected by their Xbox 360. The Kinect prompts you when a new person is in the room, a phenomena dismissed as a glitch by most users if they're alone. However there are hundreds of videos on youtube of not only 'someone not there' being detected, but these 'ghosts' also using the motion controller to operate the system." - League of Occult Research & Education (LORE)

One of the most frightening scenes in the Paranormal Activity series of horror films is where the Xbox 360 Kinect detects a ghost in the dark room. Prior to this scene coming out in the fourth film of the franchise gamers around the world had been posting videos of their Kinect detecting 'ghost players'. In the film, the characters use night vision to see what the Kinect is seeing, and sure enough, gamers had to test it out for themselves to see if in fact the Kinect could be used to detect a ghost.

Microsoft developed the Xbox Kinect as a webcam-style add-on peripheral device that enables users to control and interact with their console or computer without the need for a controller, through a 'natural user interface' using gestures and spoken commands.

Xbox 360 Kinect Seen Through Night Vision

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The Kinect 2 - More Sensitive Than A Ouija Board

The Kinect 2 for the Xbox One can locate and track multiple players in a pitch black room. The first generation motion sensor technology was upgraded with advanced Infrared (IR) sensor technology that is so sensitive it can even monitor your heart.

Ghost hunters can use the Kinect 2's 3D depth mapping feature to capture every object in a room, even in total darkness, and then monitor their gaming console to watch what goes on in that room during the night.

If an object moves it can be recorded in HD video. If a 'phantom' entity, from the size of a critter to an adult, is detected the system will track its location and movement within the environment mapping it with a stick figure outline.

Phantom Elite Paranormal Showcases Kinect's 'Skeleton Tracker'

Ghost Adventures, and other paranormal investigation shows, have since discovered the advanced features of the Xbox One Kinect 2, using it in their haunted investigations.

Before making its way to being in the prime time the Xbox 360 Kinect 'Skeleton Tracker' feature was being used by amateur ghost hunters around the world to document hauntings and apparitions. Here is one example from hundreds uploaded to YouTube. In the video below a child sized ghost or phantom gremlin is detected.

Ghost Hunters Detect Child-Sized Spirit with Xbox Kinect

Officially the folks in Redmond Washington who developed the Kinect at Microsoft dismiss any 'ghosts' as glitches caused by improper configuration or setup by the user.

However anyone who has every played a Kinect game knows that the system is far from foolproof, and more likely to not detect someone, versus detecting someone who is not there. It is this experience that warrants further investigation into the Kinect ghost phenomena. A number of the Kinect Ghost videos show a ghost player moving around and engaging with the system.

It will only be a matter of time before an indy video game company brings out their ghost hunting downloadable 'game' for the Xbox 360 and Xbox One marketplace.

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Occult Theories that May Explain the Kinect Ghost Phenomna

The ghost phenomena 'captured' with the Kinect could be described as invisible 'kinetic energy' or 'kinesis' that's responding to its environment. This is of course the root word from which the name Kinect has been coined. Kinect is a portmanteau of the words 'kinetic' and 'connect'. Kinetic, means energy derived from movement, and the word has its roots in the Greek word κίνησις (kinesis) meaning motion. Movement or kinetic energy that occurs without touch - that is controlled by one's mind or an outside invisible force - is called psychokinesis; literally, 'mind movement'.

Instead of a ghost or invisible entity that is being captured by the Kinect is it possible that it is the psychokinesis ability of the human user that has been detected? The Kinect is already training children, in some cases for hours a day, to control avatars on the screen with just their mind and body motions. Occultists and scientists point out that such activity will train the synapses in the brain to fire and wire differently when compared to someone who uses a traditional game controller device.

While reviewing some of the videos of the 'kinect ghost' phenomena the ghost effect occurs when the child looks away from the screen, from their avatar, into the physical room. Is it possible that their focal energy and physical movement that is being translated into the onscreen avatar is somehow picked up by the Kinect when that focus is placed not on the screen but inside the room? Such a scientific test could be developed using subjects that have reported witnessing the phenomena.

Psychokinesis, or PK for short, is the scientifically controversial 'ability' to manipulate objects or the environment without physical interaction. There have been many historic experiments to try to determine if PK is a real phenomena. In many ways the Kinect controller can be seen as the realization of a sort of 'PK for the masses', since the controller works by allowing one to interact with their virtual environment without touching a remote control.

While this idea may initially appear far fetched the history of technological development has been largely influenced by the desires to make manifest the tools of mysticism. An example of this is the development of the cathode ray tube which was inspired by the desire to create a real crystal ball that anyone could use to see distant places.

One of the most famous PK experiments was conducted in 1972. The Toronto Society of Psychical Research began a multi-year experiment to create a ghost from scratch using only their imagination. Their first step was to create the ghost's personality, similar to creating a fictional role playing character, or a writer creating the backstory for a fictional character.

The researchers took great pains to make their fictional, nonexistent person seem as real as possible. The team leader Dr. Owen stated in his book Conjuring Up Philip - An Adventure in Psychokinesis, “It was essential to their purpose that Philip be a totally fictitious character. Not merely a figment of the imagination but clearly and obviously so, with a biography full of historical errors.”

Initial results using meditation to contact the fictional Philip by eight individuals claiming no psychic powers failed. They switched up their tactics after months of no results and began using a fake séance to contact the fake Philip and this time the experimenters received disembodied knocks on their table in response to their questions. The Philip experiment lasted many months and the results continued to get more and more shocking:

'The Philip Experiment' May Explain 'Kinect Ghost Phenomena'

"Philip's psychokinetic powers, however, were amazing and completely unexplained. If the group asked Philip to dim the lights, they would dim instantly. When asked to restore the lights, he would oblige. The table around which the group sat was almost always the focal point of peculiar phenomena. After feeling a cool breeze blow across the table, they asked Philip if he could cause it to start and stop at will. He could and he did."

"The group noticed that the table itself felt different to the touch whenever Philip was present, having a subtle electric or "alive" quality. On a few occasions, a fine mist formed over the center of the table. Most astonishing, the group reported that the table would sometimes be so animated that it would rush over to meet latecomers to the session, or even trap members in the corner of the room."

- The Philip Experiment - An Adventure in Psychokinesis

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NASA Uses the Kinect and Oculus Rift Head-Mounted Display to Control Robots

NASA's jet propulsion laboratory is using the newly released virtual reality head-mounted display and game controller the Oculus Rift along with the Kinect to control robots in space. The Oculus Rift is being used for head-tracking and first-person view, and the new and improved Kinect sensor for gesture controls. NASA scientists can manipulate physical objects in outer space from back in the lab on Earth. DARPA and other military intelligence agencies have long been experimenting with similar setups to better control drones and the robotic warbots of today's asymmetrical battlefields.

Oculus is Latin for 'eye' and denotes a circular opening in the centre of a dome or in a wall that allows in sunlight and even rain. In antiquity this was used to light and cool large rooms. Thus an 'oculus rift' headset places an opening to virtual space on the center of your forehead. Occultists point out that the oculus in antiquity also symbolized the opening of the 'third eye' and/or the watchful eye of a deity.

Here again we see the continuing theme discussed previously whereby technology makes real tools once only available to those initiated into ancient mystery schools. In this case the Oculus Rift is like a 'third eye for the masses'. While the television was a crystal ball allowing the viewer to see distant physical space, the Oculus Rift allows emersion into the illusionary realms of virtual space, which is literally traveling into someone else's imagination. NASA is using the Oculus Rift to control a robot in real space via the human operator's virtual presence.

After Oculus Rift launches to the public there will probably be users reporting 'ghost phenomena', like with the Kinect. Oculus Rift 'ghosts' might be detected once the device is removed, similar to how ghost images become burned into a plasma screen, or what happens when you stare briefly at the sun and then look away. However, Oculus ghosts may also seem autonomous and appear when the user views their physical world surroundings through a camera using the headset to augment reality, similar to Google Glass.


NASA Control's Robot with Kinect and Oculus Rift

Google Glass - Hauntological Technology
Google Glass - Hauntological Technology

Hauntological Technologies: Kinect, Oculus Rift & Google Glass

All these technological 'ghost' phenomena evoke the philosopher Derrida's concept of 'hauntology'. Lisa Gye in her project 'Halflives: A Mystory' describes hauntology as "the paradoxical state of the spectre, which is neither being nor non-being." Derrida explored the idea of the “past inside the present” in his book 'Spectres of Marx'.

The blogger @hautepop writes "with Glass, time is indeed out of joint, and what it is haunted by is the future," explaining that "Google Glass is hauntological."

It is only a matter of time before Google Glass users begin reporting Google Glass ghost sightings and then of course the inevitable 'Google Glass Ghost Hunting' apps will appear. The apps will use bots that will point out 'anything that doesn't belong' in the day's recorded visual record, highlighting everything from possible apparitions to orbs to UFOs.

Derrida meant for hauntology to refer to the historical persistence of the concept of utopian revolution despite its removal through hegemonic power structures and corporate globalization from modern politics. Thus the Occupy Wall Street movement or the Tea Party could be described as 'hauntological political movements', i.e. literally, the 'spirit of revolution'.

At first such philosophical concepts might seem far removed from commanding your television with your voice or gesture using the Kinect, but a look at science fiction proves that such technological devices have long been married to both revolution and the spirit world. One example is the 'weirding way' from Frank Herbet's Dune novel series.

In Dune the weirding way is a style of Bene Gesserit combat that uses the command of voice, gesture misdirection and the knowledge of the limitations of human perception, and what Herbert termed "Prana-Bindu training". This was considered "magic" or " the weirding way" by the uninitiated. The 'revolutionaries' in the sci-fi story utilize Kinect-style technology to take advantage of and amplify the 'ghost in the machine' type of psychokinetic effects being reported now in the real world.

Instead of dismissing ghost effects as errors, by utilizing the new paradigm of 'science fiction prototyping' (design fiction) these 'paranormal techno-glitches' could be built upon and expanded into something totally novel, similar to the weirding way's improvised hybrid guerrilla fighting style of occult knowledge and technological repurposing...

The Weirding Way of Hauntological Tech

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Fremen: "You will never rid this planet of the Empire with guerrilla raids..."

Paul: "That is why I am asking you for a hundred of your young men. I wish to teach them the weirding way. So those hundred can come back to you and teach hundreds more. And those hundreds will teach hundreds more. Hundreds will become thousands. The Fedaykin..."

- Dune, Frank Herbert

© 2014 James John Bell

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    • Dreamhowl profile image

      Jessica Marello 3 years ago from United States

      That's really interesting. I had no idea that sort of thing happened with the Kinect (probably because I don't own one). I think it's cool that ghost hunters have tried it out in the field as well. Voted up!

    • jamesjohnbell profile image
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      James John Bell 3 years ago from Union, Washington

      Thanks, appropriately enough whenever a new technology has been released there have been ghost stories associated. The telephone is probably the most famous, but from the TV to the computer they always seem to attract such tales early on.

    • rebelogilbert profile image

      Gilbert Arevalo 3 years ago from Hacienda Heights, California

      Fascinating article, jamesjohnbell. Paranormal investigations are one of my favorite topics. I had never seen these new Microsoft programs you showed us something about. It's a lot of fun and at the same time frightening.

    • jamesjohnbell profile image
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      James John Bell 3 years ago from Union, Washington

      Thanks, yeah I'm interested in finding out what sort of paranormal phenomena accompany the launch of Google Glass...

    • efeyas profile image

      efeyas 3 years ago from Some Sunny Beach, USA

      Really interesting hub. I never knew this could be done using the Kinect. Voted up and interesting!

    • jamesjohnbell profile image
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      James John Bell 3 years ago from Union, Washington

      eyeyas thanks for voting up the hub, much appreciated

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