Can the Xbox Kinect laser cause vision problems?

Has anyone out there experienced any vision problems from the Xbox Kinect laser? I am wondering if anyone else has noticed spots, well not spots, more like a test pattern in their eyes that can be seen after playing kinect? I assume that this is due somehow to the laser in the IR sensor, is this normal or do I have a defective laser in my unit.

I’ve never had this before and since I only got my xbox kinect as a Xmas gift a few days ago I’ve noticed it twice immediately after playing kinect for about 10-20 minutes or so.

The spots resemble a vertical or slightly diagonal line and really resemble a sort of one dimensional test pattern (with various symbols, kinda like various geometric shapes).

No, I don’t put my eyes right up to the sensor, I use it normally as per the instructions.



The Kinect game itself doesn’t matter, I first noticed it yesterday and then again today. It is really odd as when I close my eyes I can see the various patterns in a single strip. It has the width and length of about a finger held vertically at arms length. It disappears in about 10-20 minutes after I stop playing but does leave me with a residual head-ache. Needless to say, it has been disconnected and I’ve contact XBOX.

The patterns themselves look kinda geometrical, hard to focus on though.

Nick: laser/IR emitter can be the same thing- if it emits IR and is phase coherent. The sensor itself has a class 1 laser device stamped on it and several websites describe it as a laser (in the 800nm range it seems). I don’t have the full specs as I assume that is a rather closely guarded secret. Perhaps it is an IR LED with a grating in front, I don’t know as I didn’t build it.


Thanks everyone for your input. I went to an electronics store where Kinect was on display. The same thing happened there so that settles it for me. It appears that I am an unlucky sod who doesn’t get to play kinect without glasses!


The Kinect is classified as a class 1 laser device (Review from Anandtech), which means the maximum emitted power of the laser is <25 μW. This amount of power, according to current knowledge, is safe. It should not be able to cause lasting damage, it doesn’t necessarily mean it is not capable of causing afterimages or similar effects.

According to the OpenKinect page the IR laser diode itself is capable of emitting 60 mW at 830 nm, which is far above safe limits. The signal is spread out, which reduces the intensity to safe levels. There seem to be some safety features built-in to ensure that. If those safety features would fail it would be theoretically possible for the Kinect to emit a harmful amount of IR. I cannot say how likely that is, though.

There is also an image of the Kinect IR pattern in the review, but it does not look like the pattern you described. You can see that pattern yourself using e.g. a smartphone camera or any other camera without an IR filter.

We humans also are not capable of seeing electromagnetic emissions in the IR range. But emissions in the near IR range (800-1400 nm) are still focused onto the retina and can damage it. Additionally, an IR laser will not activate the blink reflex, which normally would prevent further damage to the eyes. There are also no pain receptors in on the retina that could warn you, at the point were you notice the laser it will be too late and permanent damage has been inflicted.

I would personally doubt that the Kinect is responsible, but I’m not really qualified to estimate the probability of the safety measures of the Kinect failing and to judge the medical consequences of unsafe amounts of IR emissions.

I am not a doctor, this is not medical advice and I strongly recommend you to have your eyes checked by a medical professional.

Source : Link , Question Author : Frenchie777777 , Answer Author : Mad Scientist

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