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January 25, 2011 AT 1:17 pm

Hacking Kinect: Setting sci-fi in motion

Hacking Kinect: Setting sci-fi in motion @ Geek Gestalt – CNET News

To Philip Torrone, a principal at Adafruit, and therefore one of the people with a legitimate claim to kicking off the entire field of Kinect hacking, this is a very exciting time to be trying to find, or stretch, the controller’s limits. “The Kinect as it is wasn’t meant to do anything it’s doing now,” Torrone said. “We’re only at version 1 [and] the best part about all these hacks will be all the things we cannot possibly imagine.

That said, with his prognostication hat on, Torrone sees a rich future of new projects made with the device.

Robots and mo-cap 
”A few things come to mind, since the Kinect–once hacked–is a great input device specifically [for] whole-body movements,” Torrone said. “I think we’ll see the Kinect hackers start out using it to control machinery in some manner. There are some small robotics and telepresence examples already [but] that’s just the start.”

Torrone explained that he imagines Kinect telepresence projects along the lines of people employing the device as “puppet strings for controlling robots with vision systems over small and large distances.” At the same time, he envisions the Kinect being used to run anything from industrial machinery to giant Burning Man projects. In each case, “the hacked Kinect allows the user to control extremely complicated machines just [by] using their bodies, distance, and shapes.”

But limiting the Kinect to controlling Earth-bound projects is small potatoes, Torrone suggested. He finds it easy to imagine hacked Kinects “being used to control planetary or moon probes as we land new rovers in our solar system.”

NASA, of course, might prefer to work within Microsoft-authorized uses.

At the same time, Torrone thinks that the Kinect could be a very attractive new tool for young robot enthusiasts and predicted that First, a large high school robotics organization, could start implementing the device in its competitions. And then there’s the obvious military, industrial, and research uses. For one, Kinects could be employed to operate underwater robots, and for another, scientists might be able to use the controller to conduct microscopic studies. “I suppose we might see weaponized robots,” Torrone said. “‘Robot wars’ with human puppeteers [using Kinects] and giant robots fighting is certainly going to happen.”


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