kinect’s guts (image from crunchgear)

i wrote a while ago about motion gaming and whether it’s just a novelty or here for the long haul and determined that the wii/kinect/move movement is just the beginning.  the kinect on its own has blown up in sales.  but since kinect release day last year, what has me interested more than the games that utilize these motion control systems is the system hacks.

now by hacks i don’t mean game piracy or unauthorized stuff – please note the difference.  i mean hack in the sense of finding ways to use hardware and equipment in ways they weren’t designed for, for either novel purposes (i.e. just for kicks) or with an actual goal in mind.  one of the first hacks was simply getting the unit to work with a pc instead of needing an xbox console.  and once that was successfully done last year, the possibilities became limitless and developers went to work –  within one month of release, there were real time lightsabers, interactive puppets, and 3d video capture.  you can see video showing these three things and more first-month hacks at crunchgear, and they’re all nuts impressive.

but the hacks have gotten better – more sophisticated, more ridiculous, and sometimes just more bizarre.  gamesradar has a story today on controlling a bowling game through kissing.  that’s right.  kissing.  one partner out of the pair wears a headset while the other wears some sort of magnet on their tongue, and the bowling ball’s position and speed is controlled by tongue speed and movement (just sounds weird when i read that back to myself) to eventually knock pins down.  certainly strange, but could at least be more fun than just waving your hands around.  and could be worth some cred on the educational circuit too, as the creator, hye yeon nam, is a ph. d. candidate at the georgia institute of technology.

now the playstation move, while not really having the huge following kinect has, can still show off as well – god forbid the kinect devs have all the glory, right?  now this hack isn’t exactly as “fun” as the ones popularized for the kinect, nor is it really a “hack,” but from what i see on joystiq, it’s still damn cool even if only as a physics experiment.  using a move controller, a 45rpm turntable, a power supply, some wire and a pc with bluetooth, modders at PABR technologies (with video of course) made a “copernitron” that can confirm the earth’s rotation, in the spirit of foucault.  confused yet?  plain and simple, they can use the 3-axis gyroscope in the playstation move controller to do this, as well as find latitude, longitude and true north.  may sound fairly mundane to the game-minded, but it’s cool to see what the tech is capable of with a little tweaking.

so why is it that kinect does have such a huge developer following that the move seems to lack?  it’s all in how the two companies handle it.  microsoft has finally decided to open their kinect tech to anyone who’s interested in using it for things other than playing xbox.  a development kit is going to be released soon in two flavors – a personal edition and a commercial edition.  they’ve seemed to realize something that sony has not – that their technology is bigger than just console gaming, and can have a serious impact on the way we do things in science, computing and simple day to day life.  the hacks that have been developed are far more relevant to the world en masse over the small number of xbox games that can use gesture control and there are seemingly no limits to what it can be tweaked to do.

sony, on the other hand… their policies are more… well, let’s just say they’ve got their hands full with geohot.

RELEVANT LINKS:
kinect hacks
microsoft research
wikipedia article on the geohot saga

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About Tushar

Author and creator of Technical Fowl. IT/Tech hero. Jiu Jitsu purple belt. Enjoying the venn diagram intersection of tech, gaming, business, and politics.

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