Kinect works by using a camera to sense where users are and what they’re doing. Although Microsoft and games developers are producing official games, the manufacturer has also made some of the software “open-source” and a prize was awarded to the first user to adapt the Kinect for use with a computer rather than an Xbox.
Amateurs and professionals have seized on this to turn the device to new purposes, including 3D mapping via Kinect and a device more usual associated with automatic hovering, a Star Wars-style light sabre simulator (see above) and a shadow puppet that takes the movements of a users arm and projects them as a bird.
Among the most advanced of the hacks is Oliver Kreylos's use of the camera to turn a flat image into a rotatable, 3D version. Although only one view is captured by the camera, the work offers a sense of what the device is capable of. Mr Mreylos bought his Kinect on 11 November and posted his first version of the project just three days later. He writes on YouTube that “By combining the color and the depth image captured by the Microsoft Kinect, one can project the color image back out into space and create a "holographic" representation of the persons or objects that were captured.”
Other hacks include uses of the hardware to turn gestures into “doodles”. Although all the versions demonstrated so far are “experimental” or “proof of concept”, they are reminiscent of hacks that were used on the Ninendo Wii’s motion-sensitive controllers. The developer behind some of those, Johnny Lee, was subsequently hired by Microsoft to work on Kinect. The company, after initial concerns, now says it welcomes developers adapting Kinect.
By Matt Warman, Consumer Technology Editor