The $150 robot revolution @ Macleans.ca. How Microsoft’s affordable Kinect video game system is changing the world of advanced robotics…
The first step was to develop software for controlling the Kinect from a computer. Adafruit Industries, an open-source electronics company, got the ball rolling by offering a $1,000 reward to the first person who posted a program, also called a driver, online. “It was pretty clear to us Microsoft didn’t have any plans at all to open any parts of the Kinect,” says Limor Fried, Adafruit’s founder. In fact, Microsoft immediately condemned the project, without realizing there was division within its ranks—one of the Kinect’s developers, a computer scientist named Johnny Chung Lee, asked Adafruit to launch the contest, putting up the cash himself.
So when Microsoft threatened lawsuits against anyone tampering with their hardware, Adafruit raised the prize to $3,000. The drivers were online within a week.
Among the vast web of loosely connected individuals working with the technology, Bouffard was one of the first to show off the Kinect’s potential, posting videos of his autonomous flight on YouTube by December.