Kinect Hacks: Turn Invisible, Make an Instant Light Saber, & More

By Jennifer Welsh | December 2, 2010 2:10 pm

kinectThe next generation of video game control is upon us with the release of Microsoft’s Kinect–which allows users to control special XBOX 360 games with their entire body.

Hackers have been eagerly digging into the device, especially since Microsoft’s Shannon Loftis told Science Friday’s Ira Flatow that no hackers would get in trouble for finding alternate uses for the Kinect:

“I’m very excited to see that people are so inspired that it was less than a week after the Kinect came out before they had started creating and thinking about what they could do.”

Here’s a list of some of our favorite, jaw-dropping hacks: Invisibility without the cloak, 3D video, Minority Report-style computing, real-life Star Wars, and the best shadow puppets you’ve ever seen.

5. Makes the best shadow puppets EVER:

Built in a day by Theo Watson and Emily Gobeille, this little hack replaces your hand and arm with a movable bird puppet. You can control the bird, and even make it squawk.

Video: Vimeo/Theo Watson

4. Real-time light-saber action:

YouTube user yankayan hacked his Kinect to transform a normal wooden stick into a light-saber in real-time, with real light-saber whooshing sounds!

Video: YouTube/yahkeyan

3. Cloak-less invisibility:

Kinect hacker Takayuki Fukatsu hasn’t revealed details on how he became invisible, but it seems like he probably just overlaid his body with a picture of the room behind him. The effect is still pretty darn cool.

Video: YouTube/TakayukiFukatsu

2. Real-time 3D Video:

This one might be cheating, since it uses TWO Kinect cameras, but the outcome is simply amazing. Placing the two cameras at a 90 degree angle to each other, he captured video simultaneously and made a manipulable three-dimensional video!

Video: YouTube/okreylos

1. Minority Report-style computing:

An MIT-based team at the Media Lab Fluid Interfaces Group hacked the Kinect to turn an everyday computer into a gesture-controlled Minority Report style-future machine, without even needing the glowey-fingertip gloves! The video below is from another group, the multi-touch company Evoluce, which is working on the same project. Their system seems close to fully developed–the user can click and navigate, and even use an on-screen keyboard.

Video: YouTube/evoluce1

Related Content:
Discoblog: Psychology’s New Phobia-Fighting Tool: An Augmented Reality Cockroach
80beats: 4D Invisibility Cloak Bends Time as Well as Space
80beats: The 3D Invisibility Cloak: It’s Real, But It’s Really Tiny
80beats: Holographic Video Device Could Bring Star Wars Tech to Your Living Room
Science Not Fiction: The Fundamental Problems of Minority Report-style Biometrics
Not Exactly Rocket Science: Virtual reality illusions produce out-of-body experiences in the lab
DISCOVER: Virtual Reality Fires up Research Efforts (video)

Image: Flickr/bm.iphone

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Technology Attacks!, Top Posts
  • Matt B.

    Okay. So what is Kinect, and what does it do when it hasn’t been hacked? I apologize for my ignorance. I saw something about Kinect recently, but I tend not to pay attention to products that are named with a misspelled word. I didn’t get that it was supposed to be a combination of “connect” and “kinetic”.

  • Brian Too

    @1. Matt B.,

    Everyone who makes a game console is playing catch-up with the Wii. The Wii is an underpowered device but they have good ideas with their interface. Sony is coming out with something for the PS3 and Kinect is Microsoft’s effort for the XBox.

    No one is copying the Wii controllers you understand. Instead they are trying to recapture the interactiveness and ‘party’ atmosphere that Wii instills. Kinect has no controller at all, at least nothing that the user holds. It’s all done with cameras and edge/motion detection (at least that’s my understanding).

    The basic idea is to get the user out of a chair and away from a computer screen. It’s supposed to be less of a typical ‘computer’ experience and more like, I don’t know, something you might do at an amusement park or an arcade.

  • Jim

    Doesn’t look like real-time 3D video to me. Looks like real-time 3D still picture. Nice in 1997, but when does he start rotating the actual moving video?

  • Frank

    That’s what I love about the Kinect, is the fact that the most exciting part of the accessory isn’t what it was intended for. This was always supposed to be a gaming experience. What Microsoft is finding out is that they have a real gem at a great pricepoint.

    I mean look what they are doing now adays! Autonomously driving robots and thats only the beginning of what this thing will be capable of doing.

    I mean look at the Kinect hacking community at Open Kinect. They even are having Meetups now around public cities demonstrating the latest hacks in real time.

    Amazing community and I look forward to more of these.

  • Pixy

    @Matt B you should take a look over here that will explain a lot :)

  • Joell Schedler

    Most of the things could be also realised with one or 2 normal webcams…


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