by Brittany Gamboa

The XBox Kinect from Microsoft, now being used in myriad ways nature - and Microsoft - never intended.

In 2011 the Xbox Kinect, formerly known as “Project Natal,” was released by Microsoft and has recently induced the “Kinect Effect” upon us all. If you haven’t watched the “Kinect Effect” video, it exhibits the powerful uses of the console and you realize yourself sitting in your chair astounded and in awe. Unlike this device’s predecessors, it shows no evidence of slowing down regarding improvement in technology.

Following the Kinect’s release, Microsoft launched a non-commercial software development kit designed for PC users, enabling them to meddle with its natural user interface. As well as allowing them to explore the hardware of the device, with the dual camera equipped with infrared capabilities.

As everyone becomes more familiar with the Kinect’s interface, they recognize its potential to be used other than making an Imperial Stormtrooper dance (albeit that is a guilty indulgence we all share).

With an SDK, modders from MIT and UC Berkeley have produced nothing short of pure ingenuity creating such things as: a flying machine, a very popular Minority Report inspired Hand Detection mode, navigating the web through JavaScript, shadow puppets, and a first-person gaming experience is in production.

The flying machine is powered by the OS Linux with an on-board computer, detecting predefined coordinates all the while avoiding unexpected obstacles. Technology has already seen robotics in aiding those with temporary or terminal medical incapabilities, for the elderly, in Japan assisting in the restaurant biz. But when you see a Kinect doing a similar job, then we begin to wonder the limits of this device that was previously meant for another purpose.

The Minority Report interface is most likely everybody’s favorite for one specific reason. We never perceived something that was depicted in a sci-fi film, was actually tangible in this day and age, moving images and operating it with the swift motion of your hand.

Navigating the web through JavaScript was developed by a team at MIT, which uses a classic browser to search the web, being able to zoom in and out of pages, as well as clicking on hyperlinks.

The very kid-friendly shadow puppet runs with open source framework, mapping the skeletal formation of your elbow, wrist, and hand and projecting it upon a surface. A very simple premise.

Now. We have seen games such as the Metroid series on the NES develop into a great story with amazing graphics to having the Atari 5200 as our only console to choosing from about 5 plus today. But when we take a gander at the first-person gaming sample, developers are expected to dazzle us in the future, completely submerging us in what will be a new gaming experience.

The possibilities with the Kinect are virtually endless, showing us that with the correct software and hardware, we can create progressive devices. The struggle there is that unless the word passes that technology is moving forward so swiftly, there is only a handful of people that know the influence of the Kinect. Undervalued products only stay as such for a short while until someone comes along and revamps it and fails, or reboots it and succeeds. Pioneers in technology arise and give appellation for it as something more than a gaming console, allowing it to go beyond the technological boundaries and excel into something else more worthwhile.

Thank goodness for modders.

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About the Author

Krypton Radio Writer Brittany Gamboa

Krypton Radio Writer Brittany Gamboa

Brittany Gamboa writes about tech, video games and all things geeky relating to past, current, and future influences on modern society.