Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Kinect Hack-A-Thon!!

Kinect, a new 3D depth sensing camera for Xbox 360, hit retailers on November 4, 2010. Mere weeks after its release, the hacker community is showing software giant Microsoft where the limitations of its device lie.

Modders across the world are using Kinect to dream up the future of user interface input! The extent of Kinect's application extends much further than just video games. Microsoft seems to know this,  but looks to have been caught off guard by the persistence of the hacker/modder community.

MS has addressed the trend with a show of force by releasing the following statement: "We will work closely with law enforcement and product safety groups to keep Kinect tamper-resistant." The statement is a futile attempt to control an inevitability. It would be in the company's best interest to support the hacker/modder community. Update: Microsoft has wisely backed away from their original statement.

The majority of the hacks being reported revolve around Kinect to PC/MAC input scenarios. Ironically, there has not been much modification performed to the initial video game purpose of the device. Is it because of the closed nature of the console? Or, is it felt Kinect's future in games is largely held in the hands of software developers? I side with the latter.

However, I believe software developers will quickly reach the limits of Kinect. This will be exceptionally swift without a hardware-based controller to marry Kinect and core games. Its this perceived fact that I am betting my prototype controllers' foundation on. Without the core gamer being drawn to Kinect with the option of standard controls, the device could flop.

The hacks we are seeing are proof of the limitless applications of Kinect. The issue that the CPU receiving the input is an open PC, and not a closed video game console should be of no concern. I hope Microsoft takes notice and allows Kinect to live outside of the boundaries originally set.

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