Ever since a $3000 bounty was placed on cracking open Microsoft’s fab new gaming hardware, the motion-sensing Kinect for Xbox, hackers and tinkerers have been putting the open-source drivers to lots of interesting uses on platforms that Microsoft never envisioned. I’ve written about interesting Kinect hacks before (and before that,) and I’ve written about my experience with the Wii-based $50 Interactive Whiteboard (IWB,) but I haven’t seen a fully-developed Kinect-based Interactive Whiteboard.
Perhaps an Interactive Whiteboard is too narrow a description. Many of the pieces are in place (see below) to interface with a computer using Kinect. So, as with the Wii-based IWB, any application you can use on your computer can be controlled by this hardware. If you connect your computer to a projector, you essentially have an Interactive Whiteboard.
Is the Kinect-based experience different from a Wii-based IWB or a Smartboard? Almost certainly. There would be no need to touch the screen at all, but rather to gesture in front of the Kinect to interact with the projection on the screen. Would this be an improvement? I’m not sure. A touch-based IWB is more analogous to traditional whiteboard that uses markers and an eraser. So, the touchless experience would be quite different. I need to try it myself to really wrap my head around the opportunities that this motion-sensing interface offers.
I’m not sure if anyone here at Ohio State is working with Kinect as an interface for non-Xbox applications. But I do know that the Digital Union has a Kinect which could probably be used to see if and how things work. If anyone else is interested in trying to pull this together, drop me a line or leave a comment.