It is often said that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. In the world of IT, “imitation” is interchanged with “hacking”.
Last week, Microsoft announced that Kinect will have an SDK that extends its utilization from XBox to the PC. This is not entirely a new development: hackers have been very active since as far back as November when Adafruit, an electronics hobbyist company, placed a $1,000 bounty on Kinect. The bounty was intended to incent developers to build a PC driver, which could help take the world’s fastest selling consumer device well beyond gaming. Within weeks a driver was created and a multitude of applications followed. Aligning with rapidly evolving market trends, Microsoft formally announced an SDK in early March.
Since November, Kinect’s hack has proliferated a fascinating & diverse number of applications high on innovation. For instance, one developer created a Kinect app that tracks & follows a moving object with lasers (the video shown on YouTube is neat). Another app shows a person playing virtual piano by tapping different points on his desk. Oliver Kreylos created an app that offers a holographic representation of persons/objects captured on Kinect (the app has received over 2 million hits on YouTube). Dr Florian Echtler created an app akin to the futuristic sliding screens appearing in Minority Report, using his hand gestures to remotely move PC images. Still another app teaches object-recognition to the computer, which later remembers the object when queried. Have we reached the stage whereby we’re educating & having conversations with our PC?
While all of these apps are prototype and non-commercial, it is entirely possible that more investment can be made to deliver a more complete product. And this is key: what if applications could be used to help the disabled? To provide monitoring security? To drive enterprise applications? Could the boardroom soon have power point slides controlled by hand gestures instead of a mouse, with remote participants appearing based on Aliver Kreylos’s app?
With Kinect open, the race is on for the next wave of innovation.