January 28, 2011, 11:00 AM —
We follow the latest emerging trends in tech here at PCWorld, so we've been hooked on the Microsoft Kinect hacking scene. We decided to try some projects for ourselves and show you how easy it is to get started with Kinect hacks.
The Kinect, as you probably already know, is a motion- and depth-sensing 3D camera that lets you use your own body as a controller for compatible Xbox 360 games. Plenty of games for the Xbox 360 already work with the device, but hackers have been exploring new uses for the $150 peripheral.
For instance, the Kinect uses its two cameras to make a 3D depth map of whatever you point it at it, and hackers have managed to port that data over to the PC, where they can play around with it. Hackers have also used the Kinect's infrared mode to turn it into a night-vision camera. And a few hacks have even employed the small motor in the Kinect's base to allow moving the camera by remote control. (See "Top 15 Kinect Hacks (So Far)" for more ideas.)
The really impressive thing about the Kinect hacking scene, however, isn't the diversity of the hacks--it's the ease with which even the non-tech-oriented can plug a Kinect into a computer and start playing around.
We recently tried three Kinect hacks and created a short video showing the kind of fun we had.
After sitting down with a Kinect for an afternoon, we were able to get the following hacks up and running in just 2 hours.
1. Kinect 3D Viewer
The first hack we set up was the Kinect 3D Viewer, a freeware program available on the new Apple App Store. It's pretty bare-bones, but it's also dead simple to use. Just install the app and plug in your Kinect to have fun with mapping RGB values onto the depth data that the Kinect gathers. The viewer doesn't have a lot of versatility, but it is a great little tech demo for showing off the Kinect's ability to take a 3D reading of whatever you point it at.
2. Processing Demos