Kinect Hack Roundup: Robots, Mario Kart and Boobs


The creativity and technical chops of people messing with Kinect continues to impress.

Ever since the drivers that output RGB video and depth information from a Kinect unit were uploaded for the world to enjoy by Hector on November 10th, the engineering and hacking communities has been on fire. Not only has MIT released video of a robot that uses Kinect to steer and avoid obstacles, but we have also had real time manipulation of 3D video and a Minority Report-like interface for dealing with images. But new Kinect hacks just keep pouring out onto the interwebs, including a video of a two headed man made from two Kinect, a new control scheme for the first Super Mario Kart, and, of course, a Kinect titty tracker.

The surreality of this video from Vimeo user flight404 is produced by two Kinect units pointing at the same subject. When the guy depicted moves, the software compares which image is closer and only displays that information. There’s no soundtrack currently, but I could totally see this kind of thing used in a music video sometime soon. Muse perhaps?

If you’ve played the Kinect game Joy Ride, then you might be familiar with the control scheme of holding your hands up and moving it as if you were holding a steering wheel to control a car. But an enterprising programmer by the name of Dominick D’Aniello has come up with a way to control a ROM of the first Super Mario Kart for the SNES which is infinitely better. To accelerate your kart, you put your foot on the gas. To brake, you move your foot back. D’Aniello hasn’t quite got the hang of it yet in the video, but I could see this being much more fun to play than the simplistic controls for Joy Ride.

I’m not sure what the practical application of this Titty Tracker from Dan Wilcox, but it’s damn amusing. Bouncing to the beat of Hot Stuff by Donna Summer, Wilcox has programmed a Kinect unit to add coverings over his manboobs. When Wilcox moves his hand, the images covering his impressive rack switch. The various images range from the odd (tires), to the practical (bra), and even reference pop culture with a meat bra to rival Lady Gaga’s. I think my favorite is the picture of a pierced nipple covering his real nipples. So meta.

The guys over at Willow Garage have been working on creating an open source platform for the robotics industry for over three years. The team released a video of their work in integrating Kinect into ROS (Robot Operating System) and it looks really promising.

Hopefully, all of the work that these tinkerers, inventors and imagineers are doing will push technology forward. I just hope that it’s not going to be used for evil by our robot overlords…

PS: If you appended the headline to this story with George Takei saying, “Oh my!” then we may be kindred spirits.

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