Hacker Releases Open Source Driver for Kinect, Wins Money

| 10 Nov 2010 23:23
The output of depth information (left) and RGB video (right) which proves Hector's open source driver works with Kinect.
The output of depth information (left) and RGB video (right) which proves Hector's open source driver works with Kinect.

A hacker has released drivers that will allow you to communicate and control the Kinect device.

The hacker and electronics DIY crowd has been really excited about the possibilities that the technology behind Microsoft's Kinect might allow. Adafruit Industries offered a huge $3000 prize to the first person who was able to output both RGB video and depth information and to upload all of the software and documentation to GitHub. On Sunday, AlexP posted a video of his hack but decided today to withdraw his program from consideration in Adafruit's prize. Today, the winner of the Open Kinect prize was announced on the Adafruit website, a hacker who goes by the handle Hector. Hector uploaded his work to GitHub here and was judged to be the winner of $3,000 awarded by Adafruit. He has decided to invest his winnings into hacking tools and devices for him and his small group of buddies.

AlexP also believes that Hector's hack works better that his and he will also donate all of the money he raised to help fund Hector's further pursuits. "We have learned that ChipIn is not a good solution for such efforts and saw progress by other contenders," AlexP wrote today. "We have have raised a total of $457, which we will now be donating all of it to Hector/his projects for his success."

Hector's code was the first to be tested and proved to work by other hackers. "We have verified that it works and have a screenshot from another member in the hacking community (thanks qdot!) who was also able to use the code," company founder Limor Fried wrote on the Adafruit website. "Congrats to Hector! He's running all this on a Linux laptop (his code works with OpenGL) and doesn't even have an Xbox!"

Microsoft has frowned upon any and all hacking of their proprietary technology. "Microsoft will continue to make advances in these types of safeguards and work closely with law enforcement and product safety groups to keep Kinect tamper-resistant," a Microsoft rep told CNET.

Because of that stance, Adafruit Industries is also donating $2,000 to the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), which will be the first and only line of defense for hackers if Microsoft comes down on them. "[The EFF] defend our digital rights, our right to hack, reverse engineer and do things like this project," wrote Fried. If Microsoft attempted legal action, Fried said that "the EFF would likely be our only hope (yours too). If you'd like to make sure we can all continue to hack, tinker and mod please consider donating to the EFF as well."

The entire process has been one of hacker communities working and competing to solve a problem. It would be a shame if Microsoft felt the need to attack these talented men and women. I can't wait to see the kinds of things they can make work with this (now) open technology.

Source: Adafruit website

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