Ina Fried

Recent Posts by Ina Fried

Kinect Not Just for Gamers — Microsoft Wants Geeks to Play With It, Too

Almost from the moment Microsoft released the Kinect add-on for the Xbox, developers have been finding other ways to use the device and its depth-sensing camera.

Hackers quickly created their own set of tools to access the Kinect, and it soon found uses well beyond the game console. Nordstrom, for example, used it in a window display. Indeed, there is a whole Web site devoted to Kinect-related hacks.

Recognizing the interest, Microsoft promised back in February it would come out with tools to allow programmers deeper and more versatile access to the Kinect. On Thursday, Redmond made it official, introducing a software developer kit for the Kinect.

As part of the launch, Microsoft held an event where developers were given 24 hours to come up with a cool use of the Kinect kit. In one project, a team from Oregon State used the motion-sensing controller to steer a remote-controlled toy helicopter.

While the development tools released on Thursday came from Microsoft Research, the software maker said it is also working on a kit that will allow developers and businesses to create their own commercial applications.

Of course, Microsoft is also plugging away at using the Kinect for its primary purpose — as a gaming and entertainment controller for the Xbox. At E3 earlier this month, Microsoft showed off several new titles and uses for the Kinect. Microsoft has already sold 10 million Kinect controllers, providing a much needed boost not only to the Xbox, but to Microsoft’s overall revenue.

For those less familiar with Kinect, here’s a video of it in action as demonstrated at last year’s D8 conference.

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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik