Here's What You Can Build With Kinect: Custom Statues, Training Simulations, Noise Ink & More

Microsoft's motion sensing technology for Xbox, Kinect, has experienced rapid take-up and interest. Last week Microsoft announced a non-commercial Kinect software development kit for Windows, given widespread interest in using the technology outside of the Xbox. But an open source community had already sprung up in November, to enable non-gaming Kinect projects. OpenKinect is working on "free, open source libraries that will enable the Kinect to be used with Windows, Linux, and Mac." Below we check out some of the latest projects developed using Kinect.

November: Kinect Drivers Hacked, Early Experiments Begin

Kinect's original purpose was to enable gamers to control Xbox games through a natural user interface, using gestures and spoken commands. However, speculation is already rife that Kinect may be a key component of a future Windows OS release. Gestures may become as important a user interface in future computers as the mouse is nowadays.

As reported by our channel ReadWriteHack on November 10th, Kinect's drivers (software that determines how a computing device will communicate with other devices) were almost immediately hacked and became available as open source software.

Later in November, ReadWriteWeb's Sarah Perez described how to hack together a Kinect project and listed examples already created. Here's an early example of Kinect creativity, showing how 3D imagery can be created using Kinect:

Latest Developments

Since November, the 2000-strong OpenKinect community has been building more examples of software that utilizes Kinect technology. Here are some of my favorites:

Become Your Own Souvenir

A project by Barcelona based blablabLAB enabled people to create a miniature statue of themselves:

"The system invited each guest (acting as a human statue) to be filmed in front of three kinect sensors for a full 360-degree scan. Real-time 3-D data was used to duplicate the best image of a subject via the hacked controller interface, then code was applied to turn the data points into a volumetric 3-D model. Moments later, the RapMan 3.1 3D printer ejected a figurine-sized version of the participant."

Gestural Interaction for Training Simulations

These folks used Kinect to create a "free-handed interface" for a training simulation, including performing triage and a walking system.

Kinect Enabled Personal Robot

This video (in rather eerie, Kubrik-esque silence) shows a GeckoSystems Carebot, equipped with a pair of Microsoft Kinect sensors and "navigating through a narrow passageway cluttered with various obstacles."

NZ Post Auckland Arts Festival 'Noise Ink'

I can't think of a better way to end this post than with some Kinect art! Trent Brooks of New Zealand design agency &Some created an interactive projection piece for NZ Post's Auckland Arts Festival at the end of March. The piece, entitled Noise Ink, ran every night during the festival from dusk till dawn. A Kinect camera was set up in a post box and detected motions, which generated "ink splash visuals on a 15m projection screen via body movement as well as stereo sounds."

These projects offer a taste of the functionality we can expect from future systems that will use a gestural user interface, whether that be from Microsoft's Kinect or another technology yet to be developed. Let us know in the comments if you've found other cool Kinect hacks!