26 Nov

Kinect: not just a toy

26. November 2010 by George Profenza

Although the main purpose of the device Microsoft recently released is games, it has been hacked very soon after it’s release and used for a lot more.

There is quite a lot of buzz on the subject lately and I am amazed to see how quickly things move. I’ve never seen people so enthusiastic about any technology before, in such a way.

kinnectToy1 Open source drivers to this device were released. Now there are libraries for the major creative coding projects out there (openframeworks, Cinder and Processing and MaxMSP) and even Javascript (thanks to the MIT Media Lab). There are already some impressive demos made using this technology, like Robert Hodgin’s Body Dysmorphic Disorder (above), Theo Watson and Emily Gobeille’s Interactive Puppet Prototype(below) and Henry Chu’s Reflection.

Initially started as Project Natal, Kinect allows to access depth information related to what it’s camera can see. Where as before the input you got was from flat, 2D, just a projection of the 3D space, now developers can use this depth information to compute 3D point clouds. Imagine indie game developers doing 3D motion capture for their animation in-house for an affordable price. Imagine gallery spaces that blur the line between what’s augmented and what’s not even further. These are just some of the things that pop from the top of my head, but considering the fact that now digital artists/creative tinkerers have this tool at they’re disposal, I’d expect a lot more I’m pretty sure we’ll see more results soon.

With all the commotion out there, I’d hate to regurgitate everything that’s been said already. Mehmet Akten wrote a very informative article called Kinect - Why It Matters, which I recommend.

Funny how Microsoft, well known for being closed source, suddenly found themselves in this probably unexpected situation.

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