Over a million people bought one of Microsoft’s Kinect game controllers in the 10 days after its US launch on 4 November. Most eager customers rushed home, plugged it into their Xbox console and began experiencing a whole new type of gaming – one in which keyboards, mice and multi-button control pads are no longer needed.
But a few of the purchasers had no plans to use it for its intended purpose. For months they had been drooling over the technology in the device, which includes a sophisticated depth-sensing camera and infrared scanner.
For these elite hackers, the Kinect’s release was a rare opportunity to take a piece of big-name consumer tech and see what it could really do. If the device could be made to work with any computer, radical new applications were sure to follow.
“The day it was announced we were like, ‘We’re going to reverse engineer this’,” says Kyle Machulis, a hacker based in Berkeley, California. “We just love doing this.”
What happened next took the hackers by surprise. Adafruit Industries, a New York-based producer of DIY electronics kits, announced on the day of the launch that it would give $1000 to the first person to get a Kinect running on Windows, or another operating system.
Stop breadboarding and soldering – start making immediately! Adafruit’s Circuit Playground is jam-packed with LEDs, sensors, buttons, alligator clip pads and more. Build projects with Circuit Playground in a few minutes with the drag-and-drop MakeCode programming site, learn computer science using the CS Discoveries class on code.org, jump into CircuitPython to learn Python and hardware together, TinyGO, or even use the Arduino IDE. Circuit Playground Express is the newest and best Circuit Playground board, with support for CircuitPython, MakeCode, and Arduino. It has a powerful processor, 10 NeoPixels, mini speaker, InfraRed receive and transmit, two buttons, a switch, 14 alligator clip pads, and lots of sensors: capacitive touch, IR proximity, temperature, light, motion and sound. A whole wide world of electronics and coding is waiting for you, and it fits in the palm of your hand.
Have an amazing project to share? The Electronics Show and Tell is every Wednesday at 7pm ET! To join, head over to YouTube and check out the show’s live chat – we’ll post the link there.