The Xbox motion capture device that looks set to rival the Wii, Microsoft Kinect, has been hacked less than a week after it went on sale. Developers are being incentivised to work on more hacks to this device with cash prizes for modifications.
Motion capture devices are a new way of gaming and was first seen in the revolutionary Wii mote that was released a few years ago. Since then Microsoft and Sony have been desperate to build a similar controller that would bring in this extra level of interactivity.
This year see’s the release of two new motion sensor devices for the Playstation and also for the Xbox, Microsoft has just officially released the Xbox controller called Kinect which allows people to contol the Xbox games through movement raher than a control pad.
After only a few days after the official release of the Kinect it has been hacked, code has been developed to allow the motion capture device to be used with a PC as well as the Xbox console.
We have heard that Microsoft are not happy about this hack, however it has opened opportunities for the Kinect device to be used in schools, by the public sector and potentially as a learning tool. We have developed a few eLearning tools that use the Wiimote as a controller therefore having the Kinect as an option could be a good use for this sort of training and learning as well as having fun.
The hack of the Kinect controller was initiated by Adafruit, an electronics kit development company, Adafruit offered the successful hacker $1000 to hack the control software. Microsoft responded to this by announcing they would not condone anybody reverse engineering to manipulate the Kinect controller. Adafruit then upped the winnings to $3000.
The succesfule winner/hacker was Hector Martin who made the drivers available to download and modify, by doing so Hector Martin was able to connect the Kinect to a laptop and get it communicating with Linux.
Microsoft has been keen to point out that the Xbox 360 control system for the Kinect has not been hacked.
“What has happened is someone has created drivers that allow other devices to interface with the Kinect for Xbox 360,” it said. “The creation of these drivers, and the use of Kinect for Xbox 360 with other devices, is unsupported.
It added: “We strongly encourage customers to use Kinect for Xbox 360 with their Xbox 360 to get the best experience possible.”
Since the Adafruit contest, a group on Google has formed all of which are dedicated to modifying the Kinect for other uses, the group has over 400 members and post videos of people using the Kinect with Mac’s and laptops.
Matt Cutts from Google is said to be holding another contest to the user who hacks the Kinect in the ‘coolest’ way, the best and most innovative use of the Kinect will win a cash prize of $1000. Another cash prize of the same amount is said to be available for the first person or group who can get the Kinect working properly on Linux.
The Kinect hacks are opening doors for the use of this controller and with experiments trying to get voice activation and Linux connection to work there could be a range of possibilities for the device. Many think it would be suitable in schools or as part of presentations or art installations but we will see what the Google open source group come up with before we start to look at its applications.