News: The Latest and Greatest Kinect Hacks

The Latest and Greatest Kinect Hacks

Nobody could predict the success of Microsoft's Kinect, not even Microsoft themselves. So, it was quite a surprise when it ended up earning a Guinness World Record for fastest-selling consumer electronics device, and an even bigger surprise to see people buying one that didn't even own an Xbox 360.

When the very first Kinect hack came out, history was made, and a lot of really, really cool and innovative stuff followed shortly. Microsoft promised a Kinect SDK in the spring to make it easy on all of the ingenious developers, researchers and DIY enthusiasts. Sadly, spring has come and no SDK, but that hasn't stopped anybody, including Intel, from hacking the Kinect.

You'll find a lot of Kinect hacks on WonderHowTo, but below are some of the latest and greatest to surface as we all wait for the toolkit to surface from Microsoft.

Bring the club right into your living room with laser dance show hack from Matt Davis. His Kinect hack uses OpenNI to communicate with Max/MSP which talks to Ableton Live and a laser control system designed by Henry Strange. When he moves a hand forward or backwards, he controls where the laser points. When a hand moves left or right, the lasers move side to side. And when a hand moves up and down, the lasers get crazy. And that's just the light show—each gesture has an audio effect paired with it, too. You're basically one big audio-video controller!

Aside from ramps, we all know just how friendly shopping centers are when it comes to the disabled—not very friendly. Created by Luis Carlos Inácio de Matos, the wi-GO is a project that "seeks to unite the technological knowledge and liability in the construction of a common path toward integration and improved quality of life." It's essentially a robot shopping cart that uses the Kinect sensor technology to follow the shopper around the store. The above video says it all.

Russ Maschmeyer is the man behind Motiv, an open source project he wishes to release this summer that uses Kinect to give digital musicians direct control of emotional expression by interpreting their physical gestures in real-time. Will this actually be used by musicians, or turned into a video game similar to Rock Band? Probably the latter, since he one day hopes to create a game called Pop Star which would use your dancing and singing skills.

The Kinect's even being used to make graffiti, thanks to Jcnaour's Kinect Graffiti, a digital graffiti tool that uses the Kinect's camera to paint interesting images. It visualizes the body and draws different colorful angles in real time. It's a interactive design project for "understanding surrounding space, pausing the time, etc..." and it used openGL, SimpleOpenNI, openNI and primeSense Check out some of the end results on Flickr.

If you like massages, then you'll love this one. Kinda. If you're in need of a spiritual massage. Intelligent Healing Spaces has come up with the Kinected Message, an interactive tool for masseuses to tap into the "intelligent healing" aspect of therapy. The therapist's hand movements are seen by the Kinect camera and translated into a so-called "force field" that control particles that are projected directly onto the client's body during massage. There's no proven therapeutic value from this colorful massage, but the website quotes a rheumatology article from the Oxford Journals:

"There is increasing evidence that drug-free illusion therapies can be beneficial for the amelioration of chronic pain, particularly so for conditions in which some of the pain is thought to have a cortical origin... If cortical misrepresentation of body parts contributes to pain, then manipulating the appearance of those body parts might be a useful tool in the reduction of pain."

Their next step is to incorporate video googles, so the clients can actual see their colorful aura being massaged, which can induce out-of-body experiences.

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