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Are you referring to the disparity image or the depth image published by the driver?

The depth image contains the distance from the camera to the scene along the z-axis (optical axis) of the camera. The ROS openni_camera driver publishes the depth image as a:

  • 16-bit unsigned integer, in millimeters, on camera/depth/image_raw,
  • float, in meters, on camera/depth/image.

(see depth_image_proc)

The ROS driver does not publish the nonlinear, 11-bit raw output of the Kinect.