The Kinect is an impressive gaming accessory; no one is going to dispute that. But it’s the fact that the hardware is a $150 USB device that is so impressive that it warrants its own Wikipedia article:
” The device features an “RGB camera, depth sensor and multi-array microphone running proprietary software”, which provides full-body 3D motion capture, facial recognition and voice recognition capabilities…The Kinect sensor’s microphone array enables the Xbox 360 to conduct acoustic source localization and ambient noise suppression, allowing for things such as headset-free party chat over Xbox Live.”
Clearly, Microsoft hit a home run on this one.
The development community instantly latched onto the device and nearly immediately started working on mods, hacks, and shenanigans. The Kinect put up a bit of a fight at first with its locked down codebase, but a $3,000 bounty drew attention to the cause and someone ultimately cracked the code. Seeing how the Kinect is just over a month old, it’s ’bout we round up the best hacks so far and seriously, judging by the list of accomplishments done in just over 30 days, the Kinect will probably be playing us this time next year.
3D Video Capture — 10 Days After Launch
As you can see, it’s essentially the “photographic” video stream mapped onto the “depth” video stream, and while there’s certainly a little weirdness to it, it is blowing my freakin mind.
Make Any Surface Multi-Touch — 11 Days After Launch
It’s pretty straightforward, really. The Kinect looks at the scene in 3D, you establish a plane and boundaries for the interaction area, and boom, multi-touch.
Kinect Shadow Puppets — 14 Days After Launch
This hack, which creates a living, breathing digital bird on your wall controlled by your hand motions shows some of the amazing feats of Microsoft-unsanctioned hackery.
Real Time Lightsabers — 15 Days After Launch
Using all of the homebrew tools at his disposal, Yankeyan created this Kinect trick that adds a light saber to your flailing, uncoordinated image on the screen.
Kinect-Controlled Robot — 18 Days After Launch
This Kinect-based R.O.B., developed by Willow Garage, is still in the early stages, but already it’s a huge step ahead of similar systems, which use far more expensive and complicated motion tracking systems, just in the fact that it works, and it’s off the shelf.
Real Time People Tracking Using 2 Kinects — 28 Days After Launch
Some students at the École Polytechnique Fédérale De Lausanne in Switzerland have hacked two Kinect sensors to create a human tracking system that perfectly controls for occlussions in dark and light.
Autonomous Quadrotor With Obstacle Avoidance — 32 Days After Launch
Autonomously moving around a predetermined track and using the Kinect as a 3D radar to track and avoid objects is already complete. Weaponizing is likely in the works for the next implementation, followed by self-replication and swarm intelligence.