We then moved on to the bread and butter of Kinect hacks: Processing. A programming language for visual projects, Processing has also been a hotbed for Kinect hacking. Like all programming, the projects can get very complicated and take a fair bit of time.
Even if you're not a programmer, though, you can find several fun and easy demos that are quick to open and run using Processing. We were able to get some demos going in about 10 minutes using Daniel Shiffman's great tutorial. It lets you create a 3D map of your room or control the Kinect's motorized base remotely.
The Flexible Action and Articulated Skeleton Toolkit, or FAAST, is a terrific free project from USC's Institute for Creative Technologies that tracks your arms and legs using the Kinect. You then map keyboard combinations onto various physical poses. This setup has several uses; the FAAST project Webpage offers an excellent tutorial that will get you started.
We decided to map some of our motions onto the proper keys to play Valve's popular first-person puzzle game Portal. Although installation is easy enough, the mapping process can take a bit of trial and error to find a comfortable way to translate your motion into inputs. The results, however, give you a fun new way to play any game that you can run on your computer, such as allowing you to punch to shoot a portal or to jump up and down to have your character do the same.
When Microsoft released its Kinect camera for the Xbox 360 late last year, the product received fairly mixed reviews. The initial Kinect-compatible games for the Xbox 360 didn't seem to live up to the potential of the device.
While the Kinect sold fairly well during its launch period, the excitement around the camera soon moved away from the game console and over to the computer. This started when a group of hackers managed, in under a week, to get the Microsoft peripheral working on a Windows 7 PC. News of that open-source hack soon spread around the Internet, and the hacking scene boomed, producing ingenious projects such as a hack in which a robot mimics your own motions.