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Kinect Hacking – The Tech Junkie’s Dream

Microsoft’s 3-D motion sensing camera for the XBOX 360 known as the Kinect has opened doors to the imagination of thousands of hackers and modders around the world. The race to crack the Kinect took off full speed for most when Adafruit Industries offered a prize of $1,000 to anyone who could come up with an open source driver for the Kinect. When Microsoft caught word of this, they quickly contacted Adafruit with a nasty message of disapproval. Did Adafruit back down? No sir; they upped the bounty to $2,000 as a clear slap in the face to Microsoft! Further harassment from Microsoft caused Adafruitto raise the bounty by another $1,000 shortly thereafter lol.

Believe it or not, the $3,000 prize was claimed less than a week later by a hacker known as Hector who worked it out on a Linux laptop and he doesn’t even have an XBOX 360! Grats Hector!

Now that the doors are open to using the Kinect for anything you want, people are brainstorming at this very moment to create something new. The possibilities are endless if you think about it because the Kinect offers control of empty space as well as serving as robotic eyes for any creation…

This is a Kinect mounted on top of a quad-rotor hovercraft which can see obstacles and react intelligently. The Kinect-copter was made by University of California Berkeley grad student Patrick Bouffard as part of the STARMAC Project which aims to create useful flying machines which can be used for minor tasks. You can check out the video below to see the Kinect-copter in action..

There are other Kinect robots out there of course. One of the coolest I came across was a robot which could set a room to memory by rolling around scanning the room to learn the available space. Then once the room is known, it can follow hand motion commands by people in the room. It’s all very cool stuff and this is just the beginning.

The other side of using the Kinect hacks is purely for it’s motion sensing abilities. Any idea can be made reality if you work at it. Just think of how many things that were once science fiction which are now in use today! One thing that came to mind for many people was the interface used in the Minority Report with Tom Cruise.

In the movie, you can use a huge glass screen to toss images and information around with the flick of your wrist. You can also enlarge any image for closer inspection as well as tilting it to any angle. The cool part about it is using your hands to move items on a screen as easily as moving papers around on a desk. Well, students at MIT have been hard at work on the idea using the Kinect. The key is to have the Kinect watch all ten fingers as well as the palms of each hand and use them as command directions.

It doesn’t stop there my friends. Two people also managed to make a virtual space puppet! The Kinect scans the entire arm and uses the fingers, wrist and elbow to control a digital puppet which is projected on the wall! They also included a sound for the bird to make if the beak is opened. It’s a basic idea that can be used for so much more.

This next one would probably be difficult to control, but a couple of guys by the names of Peter Morton and Matthew Yeung have made a virtual piano that can be placed on any surface the Kinect can see at any size!

The last hack I would like to show is funny because you can tell how badly this guy wanted to play Super Mario Bros with the Kinect! The actual games for the XBOX 360 using the Kinect are all very similar and always use 3-D space. This is what it would be like using the Kinect on a side scroller….

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