The tech behind Kinect is nothing short of amazing. Strangely, the stuff it was made for isn’t all that awesome. Yes, it’s cool, but the camera’s true awesomeness comes from the hacks that people have used to make it do things even Microsoft probably never intended.
It all started with a huge “bounty” to the first person or group able to hack the device. Microsoft wasn’t too crazy about it at first, but they now like to say that the Kinect was not “hacked.” Oh well, whatever your definition of “hack” is, there is no doubt that these are all very cool uses for the device.
Let’s take a look at every one we’ve been able to find on the internet:
1) Kinect Optical Camouflage Demo
This is about as close as we can get right now to that awesome camouflage that the Predator had. You know, the one where all you could see was the weird, blurry shape. It was really cool, but probably impossible back then. Heck, it’s probably impossible now, unless the military is testing this stuff out without us knowing. Either way, it looks like a lot of fun.
2) Two Kinects 3D Camera
The quality is pretty rough, to say the least, but it looks very awesome. Two Kinects are set up around the box and capture the 3D image. However, because combined they capture more than just one angle, it allows for a render of a fuller 3D space.
3) 3D Camera
This was one of the first, and is still by far one of the coolest Kinect Hacks we have ever seen. Someone has modified it by adding more cameras, which makes it possible to pan completely around an object, but this is still one of our favorite Kinect hacks.
4) Kinect AR Monster
Playing with augmented reality is pretty cool. How about a Doom monster in AR? It’s okay, he’s little and cute…like a pet. Yes, a demon pet that hunts down humans and tears them to pieces, but look at this little guy. It’s like a Mogwai with no fur.
5) Kinect As Nintendo Controller
Remember the days of the NES? Most of us in the 25-35 age range miss it dearly. Well, here it is, with a new way to control it. Kinect is being used as the controller. We definitely wouldn’t make it through the game, but it could be fun.
6) Kinect Lightsaber
While we know that an official Star Wars game for Kinect is in the works, why not check out this hack that makes a Kinect Lightsaber almost real. It’s only on your TV screen, but at least you can watch yourself dance around like Star Wars kid onscreen while holding the Jedi weapon.
7) Kinect Air Guitar
Everyone loves the air guitar. It’s a classic instrument that all of us have held on at least one occasion, and no matter what, we sound awesome on it depending on what band we’re listening to. Now look at this guy, he rocks on his Kinect guitar.
8) Kinect Shadow Puppets
It’s getting harder and harder to place these in a great order, because so many of the hacks we’ve seen are just beyond awesome. This is another one we really enjoyed. It’s a Kinect hack for creating very cool shadow puppets. It’s an amazing hack, but the bird’s squawking is rather loud and harsh sounding…just a fair warning.
9) Sneaky Ghosts
This is a weird Pac-Man-like ghost following the guy around the room while he tries to show off his cool Kinect hack. We hope he was able to get rid of the ghost in his house.
10) Moving Photo Interface
Everyone likes this one because it shows off that “Minority Report” interface that so many were originally excited about. It is a very cool hack, but far from being the most awesome. It seems like the hacker agrees, he was once quoted as saying something along the lines of he wanted to get this one out of the way so people could move on to more interesting things.
11) Kinect sees Fingers
This hack enabled Kinect to detect individual finger movements. The peripheral was originally designed to do something like this, but either it was too expensive to implement the technology or too taxing on the Xbox (combining near 1:1 with the processes going on in-game, that is). Still, this is what we wish Kinect did out of the box. Maybe in its next iteration?
12) DaVinci Controlled With Kinect
This is a cool demo of DaVinci, the cool little physics illustrator by Razorfish. The music in the video is haunting and watching the movement is hypnotic, almost like a lava lamp. Don’t zone out while watching it.
13) Web Navigation
Navigating a website with Kinect looks pretty easy with the tools these guys built. It’s a pretty cool looking interface, and while we don’t know that we would want to hold our hands up the whole time while browsing the web, this could be a very cool interface for browsing in the living room.
14) iPad + Kinect + Mac
This is a fun way to put various pieces of technology together. This guy combined his iPad, MacBook Pro and Kinect to create a…to create this thing. It’s really neat looking, you can see his image represented onscreen by the Kinect sensor. What’s cool is that his iPad actually controls the Kinect.
15) One Day, Kinect Will Drive You
Kinect is even figuring out how to avoid objects. Watch it steer that car around things placed along the floor. We think that one day, Kinect will drive us home for the holidays. We just hope it looks something like Johnny Cab.
16) Flying Hunter Killer With Kinect Eye
Okay, to it’s not really a flying Hunter Killer from Terminator, but it’s a quadracopter capable of flying a predetermined path and detecting objects that are placed in its flight path. Scared yet?
17) Robots are Real
We think that Kinect may be one of the first steps towards what will one day become Skynet. We already have PlayStation 3s that are working figuring out thought patterns, so what’s a camera device that pans around the room to track your movement?
18) Object Recognition
If leading a robot around a room isn’t good enough for you, how about object recognition? This thing can learn to recognize different objects you hold up in front of its camera. The voice this guy assigned to it makes it even scarier.
19) Playing Minecraft
Personally, I’ve made a vow to stay away from Minecraft. Nothing against the game, I just try to stay away from anything that may keep me that hooked. How about using Kinect to play the popular game? Yup, it’s been done, and here it is.
20) 3D Drawing
Drawing in a 3D space sounds cool enough, now see it in action. It’s basically just augmented reality, and the guy traces his hand around to create objects. While we don’t expect to see any masterpieces anytime soon, it’s still an interesting little hack.
21) Tracking Objects
This idea looks friendly enough. It’s colorful, it’s not doing anything creepy like naming objects throughout the house and scanning your room. It just knows where you’re standing, always. It’s very neat, and the best part is that the person responsible for the hack takes the time to explain what’s happening. It’s a very neat setup, and worth watching for the explanation alone.
22) “Friendly Kinect”
This demo is one of the simpler ones, but it’s still interesting, and shows some of the cool possibilities of the hardware. When the person goes too far away from Kinect, it asks where he is. When he is the correct distance from Kinect, it greets him. Then, when he walks too close, it says he’s too close. Simple, but effective in showing off how the camera can recognize objects and depth.
23) Kinect Controls Windows 7
What’s great about Kinect is how it allows for new UI experiences. In this video, they are controlling Windows 7 with the Xbox peripheral. The relaxing music is a bonus.
24) Head Turning and Accelerometer Data
This is just a quick hack that made it possible to control the Kinect motor and read the accelerometer data. It was done in about 20 minutes, so it just goes to show that amazing things can be done with more time.
25) One of the First Kinect Hacks we Saw
While this one was far from being as awesome as the stuff we would be seeing in the coming weeks, it was still a very cool video that served to show us that the Kinect had been hacked and connected to a PC. We just knew that the possibilities from here on out would be awesome.
26) 3D Video with Kienct Hack
Like many of these 3D videos, this one is a bit fuzzy. It’s still an interesting video, and what’s even cooler is that he filmed it with his iPhone 4 in portrait for a crazy aspect ratio.
27) Kinect on OS X
This was another early Kinect Hack. It’s Kinect running on Mac OS X. There’s not much to it, but hacker Theo Watson has done a lot since then. Just watch some of his above videos. The guy knows Kinect better than Kinect knows Kinect.
More On the Way?
Right now it seems that everyone and their grandma is hacking Kinect. In fact, we are sure that in the time we wrote this, at least 10 more videos of hacks have been uploaded to the internet and in the time you read this, at least three more hack videos will make their way to Vimeo or YouTube. At least it seems that way right now.