The Twelve Best Kinect Hacks Of 2010

Microsoft’s Kinect for Xbox 360 was released in early November of this year and went on to sell over 2.5 million units in the first 25 days. The sensor allows players to control a game through body movements, and its relatively low price and widespread availability quickly made it a popular item to hack and modify. Upon the Kinect’s release, Adafruit Industries announced they would pay $3000 the first person to hack it, about which Microsoft initially voiced disapproval. Six days after the North American release of the Kinect, Adafruit declared Héctor Martín the winner. Microsoft released a statement that the “Kinect was not actually hacked” because Martín had not modified the Kinect to cheat on Xbox games nor had he obtained and used the algorithms inside the Xbox, which is their definition of hacked. Regardless of your definition of hacking, Martín hacked the sh*t out of the Kinect and it was awesome.

Since then, several cool Kinect modifications have been successfully made. Here are the 12 best Kinect hacks so far this year (besides Martín’s) in no particular order, as well as five honorable mentions and the worst Kinect hack of the year:

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Emily Gobeille and Theo Watson at design-io used openFrameworks and libFreenect to mod the Kinect into an arm-tracking shadow puppet toy. It only took them a day to build this. (CrunchGear)

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Michael Schweitzer and Michael Himmelsbach at the University of Bundeswehr Munich connected a Kinect to a little robot car and programmed it to steer itself. Make it bigger and have it drive us to work. (Engadget)

Patrick Bouffard at UC Berkeley mounted a Kinect on a quadrocopter to make it navigate autonomously, because making quadrotor helicopters more similar to the manhacks from Half Life 2 is a fantastic idea. Seriously though, stop that. (Engadget)

Ihar99 also mounted a Kinect on a quadrocopter. This one detects gestures telling it which direction to move. Until it becomes self-aware and starts disobeying its orders, of course. (KinectHacks)

Yankeyan used OpenKinect drivers and OpenCV to make a lightsaber appear on the video in place of the wooden rod he’s swinging around. Unfortunately, he didn’t channel his inner Ghyslain Raza to bust some sweet moves. (Technabob)

Here’s another hack from the same guy who did the lightsaber on the previous page. For this one, he had the Kinect translate his jumping around, running in place, etc. into controller commands for playing Super Mario Bros., Super Mario Bros. 2, and Super Mario Bros. 3. It’s irritating to watch — like watching grandparents do a google search — but I’m glad it exists. (Technabob)

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Chris O’Shea used OpenFrameworks and OpenCV to program a Kinect air guitar. Party on, dudes. (Make)

Remember that scene from Big where Tom Hanks and Robert Loggia play Chopsticks on an FAO Schwartz floor piano? These Australian dudes used OpenKinect to make “Keyboard Anywhere” and reenact that scene, kinda. (BoingBoing)

The Fluid Interfaces Group at MIT programmed a Chrome browser extension DepthJS called which combines with a hacked Kinect to make a computer interface reminiscent of the computer in Minority Report. WANT. (Make)

Here’s another Minority Report style interface. Garratt Gallagher at MIT modified the Kinect to make a computer interface to detect hand and finger movements, even at higher speeds. (Make)

Razorfish incorporated a Kinect into their DaVinci illustrator tool, letting the user draw with hand gestures then apply real physics to the drawing (gravity, magnetic attraction, etc). This is how you keep a stoner busy. (Gizmodo)

Takayuki Fukatsu used openFrameworks to transform the Kinect into optical camouflage like the Predator. If only this worked in real life and not just on video. Oh well, I guess we’ll just have to use it to freak out people on Chatroulette for now. (PopSci)

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