10 Innovative Kinect Hacks

10 Innovative Kinect Hacks

Our guide to the first and newest "remixes" of Microsoft's $150 infrared laser depth sensor.

John Ryan
  • 30 november 2010

Encouraged by a low price tag and a USB port left open “by design,” the open-source community quickly cracked the Microsoft X-Box 360 Kinect module and published guides to accessing its infrared depth sensor. Interactive designers seized on the opportunity to repurpose the affordable 3-D imaging technology to their own creative projects.

Here are ten of the new breed of Kinect Hacks:

Hector Martin of Spain won $3,000 from Adafruit Industries for being the first to upload open-source code for the Kinect. He posted his successful “hack” just three hours after European launch time. He plans to use the Kinect to integrate live performance into his custom laser light shows.

Kinect Open Source Driver Demo

Theo Watson was the first to publish open-source code to connect the Kinect to Mac OSX. Already ahead of the game as a co-designer of interactive installations for children, Watson quickly repurposed the Kinect for digital puppetry.

Kinect Running on OSX (With Source Code)

UC Davis researcher Oliver Kreylos became the breakout star of the Kinect Hack movement when his realtime 3-D modeling experiment reached over one million views on Youtube. A profile in the New York Times soon followed. Kreylos has since successfully merged two Kinect units for fuller 3-D imaging possibilities.

Kreylos Youtube Account

MIT student Philipp Robbel designed a robot to use the Kinect as a remote 3-D image mapper. With added people-recognition ability, Robbel hopes the technology will be used in search-and-rescue missions.

Wired: Control A 3-D Mapping Robot With Gestures? Just Add Kinect

Florian Echtler of Germany joined the Kinect to his own multitouch interface software to create a prototype for hands-free picture browsing, just to get it “out of the way.” The future of office work as portrayed by Tom Cruise in Minority Report has just been realized.

Engadget: Hacked Kinect Taught to Work as Multitouch Interface

Patten Studio programmed the Kinect to track movement across a projection space on the “arbitrary plane” of their floor, showcasing its integration into their presentation designs.

Youtube: Tracking On Arbitrary Planes With Kinect

Mehmet Akten uses the Kinect to create and manipulate 3-D drawings with hand motions and published the code for his program. Aken’s own Mega Super Awesome Visuals company specializes in immersive interactive installations.

Vimeo: OfxKinect 3D draw 001

Eric Gradman’s “Standard Gravity” uses the Kinect’s depth sensor to create the illusion that the performers’ body movements are stopping the image of falling bricks projected against the wall behind them.

Kinect Hacks: Standard Gravity, Kinect Projection Art

Processing and Cinder programmer Robert Hodgin of San Francisco demonstrates distortion of the Kinect’s body-mapping abilities to monstrous effect.

Kinect Hacks: Body Dysmorphic Disorder

Interaction designer Ackim Kern of Germany uses code made public by to create this “pinboard” style interface and anticipates its immediate ubiquity in hip hop music videos.

Kinect Hacks: Kinect Pinboard

Our last extra link comes from Carnegie Mellon Phd Johnny Lee, whose 2007 Youtube accounts of his Nintendo Wii hacks earned him over eight million views, and not coincidentally, a job working on the Microsoft Kinect. The feedback cycle of innovation continues.



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