Coolest Kinect hacks: Our favourite motion-sensor experiments

Having been on sale for only a week, we're already seeing some really cool uses for Kinect's sensor bar from the open-source community. Check our favourites right here...

Luke Westaway Senior editor
Luke Westaway is a senior editor at CNET and writer/ presenter of Adventures in Tech, a thrilling gadget show produced in our London office. Luke's focus is on keeping you in the loop with a mix of video, features, expert opinion and analysis.
Luke Westaway
2 min read

Kinect is already bringing the good times to families and booze-fuelled halls of residence, but we should spare a minute to thank the hard-working techie-types of the world, who've devoted themselves to cracking open Microsoft's motion-controlled accessory and feasting on the gadgety goodness within.

Kinect has been out for less than a week, but already enterprising hackers are finding unusual ways to put the sensor bar's 3D imaging capabilities to good use...

It all started when electronic company Adafruit Industries offered a $1,000 reward to the first person to build an open-source driver for Kinect, which would enable other l33t h4xx0rs to use Kinect for their own innovative means. Microsoft didn't take kindly to that competition, which prompted the reward to be raised to $2,000, and then again to $3,000.

The lucky fellow to claim the prize was Hector Martin, who uploaded a YouTube video of his hacked Kinect three hours after the European launch: 

Martin uploaded his driver for anyone to play around with, and since then has also created a laser-tracking projection, which looks extremely cool and is able to find quadilateral shapes and fire lasers accordingly:

Next on our list of cooler-than-we'll-ever-be techsperts is Oliver Kreylos, who turned the Kinect sensor bar into a 3D camera. By combining both the colour image and the depth image that Kinect produces, Kreylos was able to make a proper 3D image. In the video below hear him explain what's going on, and use his computer to spin around a 3D model of his room in real-time. Very, very cool.

Meet Dr Florian Echtler: he wins the prize for bringing us closer to the glorious Minority Report-style interface than we've ever been. He's created a program that allows for multi-touch photo manipulation without the need for a boring old touchscreen. It's excellent stuff, and while it's only a proof of concept, it goes to show Kinect is more powerful than the tedious hatful of official launch games would have you believe.

Check out this video in which Mehmet Akten creates a 3D doodle in mid-air. By using one hand he draws a pattern, and when he switches to two hands, the image can be rotated to reveal its three-dimensional loveliness.

We also see potential in YouTube user yankeyen's demo of object recognition using Kinect:

Not bad for just a week of hackery, eh? Safe to say, these rather cool techsploits show Kinect has more potential than as a temporary trap for your child's attention on Boxing Day. We can't wait to see what those crazy cats come up with next week.