Monday, 21 March 2011

Kinect - More than just a mocap for the XBox

Back in November 2010, Microsoft released the Kinect for their XBox 360. Interesting concept for controlling a video game system but that does not even touch the potential of what is possible with the Kinect. There are new hacks coming out daily for the Kinect system from creative, and sometimes warped, minds. Many of the hacks have a level of creative inspiration that they evoke while others are just finding some weird applications for an easily modified tracking system. Two articles that really epitomize the breadth of applications on are the Kinect being used for Medical Research by University of Minnesota as a replacement for a $150K machine followed by an article about someone using it as an Evil Genius Simulator! All of them are very much beyond what Microsoft was intending when they brought the system to market. The Kinect uses an IR projection of points, a depth sensor (CMOS) that maps the dots and another colour CMOS to image the area.

So what do the projected series of IR points look like?

The offset between the IR projection and the depth sensor determines the shape and distance away from the Kinect unit objects are. I have been following the postings at and am amazed at the wide range of ideas that people continue proposing for the Kinect. Updates are going up there daily so it makes an interesting read with the morning coffee a couple of times a week.

I have also been following this fellow because he is doing some pretty cool stuff with the Kinect  and does a decent job of breaking it down to show it in a practical function. The Kinect is on my wish list to pick up sooner rather than later in case Microsoft puts some type of firmware update to lock out the ability to hack it so openly. Hopefully I will have a few interesting things to post from some of my own experiments over the next couple of months.