Tag Archive: kinect hack


This humanoid robot has been programmed to copy your every move via the Kinect. It does this by using the Kinect (connected to a PC) to map the human body; it then sends that data to Japanese robot Website V-Sido. Thanks to the Kinect and V-Sido, the robot-to-human coordination is pretty flawless.

So, another cool Kinect hack–it’s just a shame it lacks the details of how this hack came to be. But just imagine what you could do with this kind of programming–an army of robots to do the household chores maybe? Watch the video to see the robot dance.

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Kinect Hack

Who knew Kinect could work just as well snapped into a regular PC as an Xbox 360?

Martin Hector took up a challenge issued by Adafruit Industries to uncork Kinect’s mysterious motion-tracking mojo for the masses. The prize? $3,000, an amount Adafruit bumped twice from $1,000. Adafruit, run by two MIT alums, calls itself “a New York City based company that sells kits and parts for original, open source hardware electronics projects.”

Who Needs an Xbox Anyway?

The result of Martin’s hacktivist fiddling? An open source Kinect driver enabling rudimentary “depth and RGB image” manipulation, and for Martin, a pocket full of $3,000.

“It’s about three hours after the European launch of the Kinect…and I just now got it to work with a completely open source driver,” said Martin. “There’s not a sniffer, not a man in the middle, it’s completely autonomous.”

Martin was able to get Kinect to sing wielding a Linux laptop and Open GL drivers, and here’s the real kicker: He doesn’t own an Xbox.

The data from Martin’s hack is now available for anyone to pull down, play with, and–implicit in Adafruit’s challenge–improve upon.

One user’s already managed to get it working under Windows 7, allowing manipulation of the sensor’s mechanized tracking motor. Another was able to make Kinect’s camera work in OS X, while noting that the USB timing “was quite different from Linux.”

Minority Retort

Someone’s even pulled together an impressive gestural interface along the lines of what Tom Cruise gets up to in Minority Report, allowing shifting and resizing of onscreen images by making simple hand motions.

Microsoft’s response? Fit to be tied. Or, you know, tie someone else up.

“Microsoft does not condone the modification of its products,” a Microsoft spokesperson told CNET, reacting to the Adafruit challenge. “With Kinect, Microsoft built in numerous hardware and software safeguards designed to reduce the chances of product tampering.”

“Microsoft will continue to make advances in these types of safeguards and work closely with law enforcement and product safety groups to keep Kinect tamper-resistant.”

Law enforcement and product safety groups? Really Microsoft? What’s next, “Use of Kinect other than as explicitly defined by Microsoft, i.e. with an Xbox 360, could result in serious injury to the user”?

It’s Not a Hack!

After the hacks emerged, Microsoft issued a statement claiming “Kinect for Xbox 360 has not been hacked–in any way–as the software and hardware that are part of Kinect for Xbox 360 have not been modified.”

“What has happened is someone has created drivers that allow other devices to interface with the Kinect for Xbox 360.”

I suppose we could quibble over the definition of “hack,” which in its most general sense means “use a computer to gain unauthorized access to something.” But whatever works for Microsoft’s public relations department, since the latter statement nullifies their first, and puts Adafruit and Hector Martin in the clear. Update: For those rather confused about what constitutes a hack, I prefer Wikipedia’s definition: “[R]efers to the re-configuring or re-programming of a system to function in ways not facilitated by the owner, administrator, or designer.” And yes, that clearly and explicitly includes plugging Kinect into a device it wasn’t intended to be plugged into and accessing it with ad hoc drivers.

Adafruit had donated an additional $2,000 to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a donor-funded nonprofit Adafruit says “defend[s] our digital rights, our right to hack, reverse engineer and do things like this project.”

The Amazing Race?

What’s next? Competition between Microsoft and the hacker community to release a suite of tools that allows Kinect to be used with PCs for gesture-based apps? An whole motion-control subculture that eventually tries to pass off Open Kinect computer SDKs gratis, sort of like Open Office?

And what happens if Kinect can be flashed via the Xbox 360 to thwart these hacks, the way Sony does by routinely flashing the PSP?

Click here to go to open libraries for the Xbox Kinect hardware

     Well, that was fast. Do-it-yourself electronics kit maker and hobby retailer Adafruit recently announced that a hacker had won the company’s Open Kinect Bounty. Spain-based hacker Hector Martin Cantero, who is known online as “marcan,” released a proof-of-concept video Wednesday night showing the Kinect interfacing with his Linux-based laptop. As the official winner of Adafruit’s OK Bounty, Marcan was awarded $3000 (the bounty has been upped twice from the original $1000).

 The OK Bounty was a competition to see who could create the first open source software drivers for Kinect, the Xbox 360’s motion-control device. Marcan uploaded his code and it is now available for anyone to access, here. It should be noted that unless you’re a programmer there’s probably not much you’ll be able to do with this code.

 Besides awarding Marcan the $3000 bounty, Adafruit also donated an additional $2000 to the Electronic Frontier Foundation. The donation acknowledges the EFF’s work in defending hackers from corporate lawsuits. Earlier, Microsoft had said it would work with law enforcement to protect the Kinect from hackers. Adafruit said that if Microsoft ever did go after the retailer or Marcan that the EFF would most likely be its only hope for a proper legal defense in court.

Kinect is Easy To Hack

In the video above posted to YouTube, Marcan said he was able to get his hack to work just three hours after the Kinect’s European launch on November 10. Marcan’s hack isn’t much to write home about, all he was able to do was get the Kinect’s RGB camera and depth perception to display on his laptop’s screen. “It’s a complete hack right now, but I believe this proves the concept,” Marcan said.

Kinect Hacks Pouring In

Since Marcan’s hack, others have forwarded their own open source drivers for the Kinect.

You can see a video of Vimeo user Theo Watson replicating Marcan’s results using the Kinect on a Mac OS X machine here–Adafruit’s experiments with Watson’s hack pictured above.

Here’s an incredibly cool example of YouTube user Flomuc using the Kinect as a multitouch interface on Mac OS X:

The hack uses Marcan’s code plus some of Flomuc’s on work on multitouch interfaces.

Kinect Hacking Continues

     Now that the Kinect hack is out of the bag, the software development frenzy has begun in earnest. Blogger Matt Cutts–whose day job is the head of Google’s Web spam team–is personally offering two $1000 prizes to spur open source innovation for Kinect. The first prize is for anyone who creates an open source ” app, demo, or program” that uses Kinect. The second $1000 prize will go to the hacker that “does the most to make it easy” for others to write Linux programs that use Kinect. Basically, Cutts is looking for someone to help create a rudimentary development platform for Kinect on Linux. It should be noted that Cutts is offering this prize money on his own, this is not a contest directly funded by Google.

There is also an OpenKinect forum on Google Groups discussing various experiments with Kinect including creating a 3D scanner and augmented reality applications. The group had over 400 members at the time of this writing.

It will be interesting to see how Microsoft deals with the hacking craze spurred by its new motion-control device. On the one hand, it may be annoying to find people using Kinect on Linux, Mac OS X and Windows PCs instead of the Xbox 360. But if the Kinect hackers produce some amazingly cool results that others can then use at home, Microsoft would be far better off encouraging the hackers projects. This would spur even wider use of Kinect, and how could that be a bad thing for Microsoft?

as said by Ian

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