Kinetic Hacks

Xbox Kinect, if you didn’t know already, is the motion sensor plug-in for Microsoft’s all conquering Xbox 360 games console. The wireless webcam device is as good as it gets when it comes to video game (although ‘video game’ seems like an old school phrase now) interaction and beyond. Using an infrared laser projector and microchip for 3D motion tracking called ‘Light Coding’, the Kinect sensor creates a laser grid to calculate depth. The technology allows for gesture, facial and voice/ sound recognition. We’re certainly a long way from the days of Pong now…

But the really exciting part is that Kinect for Windows (now on version 1.5) allows users with the software development kit to modify Kinect technology to work with their own apps. Open source interactive gaming, if you are geeky enough, gives programmers and gamers almost endless possibilities…

Here are a couple of our recent favourites:

NOKIA 610 Kinect Hack

Nokia who, before the iPhone reared its shiny head, used to dominate the portable phone market, have made an interesting use of Xbox Kinect to promote its Lumia 610 smartphone. Using movement sensors and HD cameras called ‘totems’, punters are able to learn about the device using interactive ‘touchless’ technology.

The application user stands on a blue Nokia floor marker where they can see themselves on the ‘totem’ screen. The Nokia Lumia 610 appears on the screen above your extended hand and Kinect uses its sensors to measure distance and depth which then scales the size of the phone. It also reads particular gestures by the user to change colours and launch films displaying the 610’s various functions. Nice one Nokia.


Drum Kit

Taking Obi Wan’s Kinect hack to the next level, this guy in his underpants is controlling a synth drum machine in Ableton Live software with his body. Although he looks like a weirdo at a party who has had one too many Shandies, it’s got to be a lot of fun (even better than drinking Shandy).


Simple pleasures can go a long way. Any self respecting Star Wars fan dreams of holding an actual lightsabre and slicing up Ewoks with it. This hack doesn’t do exactly that but we reckon it will give you at least a 15 minute Obi-Wan-Kinobi-gasm. The Kinect sensor analyses particular hand gestures, such as the thumb up indicating you want to activate your lightsabre. Thumb down and your mission is complete… Of course, this kind of adaption can be used for slightly more important things like sign language interpretation,  educational demonstrations and … virtual lightsabers!