A few days ago, I wrote about how the new Microsoft Kinect has been hacked so that you don’t need an Xbox to use it. There are now lots of tinkerers and hackers working with this hardware to see what else might be possible. Although it’s not as easy to see the immediate applications for Kinect in the language classroom as it was for the Wii-based interactive whiteboard, there are obvious parallels. And this new gaming hardware is more advanced than the Wiimote, which may offer more possibilities. I’ve posted some examples of some interesting Kinect-based projects below.
How does it work?
Infrared beams, and lots of them. Here’s how it looks with an infrared / nightvision camera.
Because Kinect can “see” surfaces in 3D, it can be used to create a multitouch interactive whiteboard on multiple surfaces.
Control your browser
Forget your mouse. Kinect can see the gestures you make in three-dimensional space. Use gestures to control your browser and more.
Teach it to recognize objects. Obviously, there is a lot more software in use here, but Kinect provides the interface.
Who wouldn’t want one of these?
In 1987, the movie Predator cost $18M. A significant portion of what was left over after paying Arnold Schwarzenegger was likely spent on the cool alien light-bending camouflage effects. Just over 20 years later, you can make the same effects on your computer using the $250 Kinect hardware.
At first glance, this looks like really poor quality video, but stick with it. Notice the Kinect camera does not move, but with the flick of a mouse, the point of view can be changed as Kinect extrapolates where everything is in the space based on what it can see from where it is. The black shadows are where Kinect can’t see.
Using 2 Kinects, most of the shadows are filled in. The effect is like a translation of the real world into a low resolution Second Life-like environment.