I started to get interested in what others were doing with the Xbox Kinect after reading many interesting blog posts and seeing what a recent maker has done with it. Microsoft is quietly, in my view, building a robust community of developers who are hacking and creating in all sorts of powerful, useful, and fun ways as you’ll read here.
We think the Kinect hacking has been one of the best things that has happening to Microsoft and they seem to be embracing it as well.
The original Kinect helped make the Xbox 360 last year’s bestselling game console; Microsoft has sold more than 18 million Kinects since November 2010. It’s also inspired tinkerers to put the device to unanticipated uses, such as guiding robots and doing 3D modeling. With Kinect for Windows, Microsoft aims to coax professional developers and big companies to create apps that make Kinect as essential in the home, office, and showroom as smartphones are to those on the go. “This is a turnaround chance for Microsoft,” says James McQuivey, an analyst at Forrester Research (FORR). “A chance for them to say this isn’t about video gaming, it isn’t about Windows, it’s about the future of everything.”
The open source community did a great job showing the possibilities once hardware is set “free”.
…we’re delighted to announce the general availability of Microsoft Robotics Developer Studio 4 (RDS 4) which can be downloaded for free from the Microsoft Robotics website. It was just over five months ago that we announced the availability of RDS 4 Beta and since then, the Microsoft Robotics team has been hard at work putting the final touches on RDS 4 to give developers access to the software they need to build robotics applications… our own team has been using RDS 4 for a while now and we’ve come up with a few cool and unique applications. Check out the video of the Kinect Follow Me robot which was created by our team.
“There is a rapidly expanding online community of people who have been able to use the Microsoft Kinect to do really amazing things,” Gould said in an e-mail. “Thanks to their hard work, we have been able to adapt what is essentially a toy to be a part of our video show.”
In this episode of Waterloo Labs we show you how we combined an XBox Kinect, an Arduino, LabVIEW and an off the shelf Etch-a-Sketch to make the Kinect-a-Sketch. This system allows you to control the Etch-a-Sketch just by standing in front of the Kinect. You can you a gigantic pencil or even just your hand.
Ever since Rosey the Robot took care of “The Jetsons” in the early 1960s, the promise of robots making everyday life easier has been a bit of a tease.
With Ava, left, iRobot is trying to do Rosey the Robot of “The Jetsons” one better. Ava will have an iPad or Androidtablet for a brain and Xbox motion sensors to help her get around.
Rosey, a metallic maid with a frilly apron, “kind of set expectations that robots were the future,” said Colin M. Angle, the chief executive of the iRobot Corporation. “Then, 50 years passed.”
Now Mr. Angle’s company is trying to do Rosey one better — with Ava, a 5-foot-4 assistant with an iPad or an Android tablet for a brain and Xbox motion sensors to help her get around. But no apron, so far.
In a future of user-complicity in surveillance can we create a parallel narrative allowing those who are seen to abstract and enjoy their own image?
We intend for these images to represent a hint of the potential for play and experimentation in a world of advanced imaging technology.
The images depict fragments of candid photographs placed into 3-dimensional space. They use depth data captured from a Microsoft XBOX Kinect video game controller with hacked drivers, digital SLR images, and custom software.
Flying a S107 RC Helicopter using the Microsoft Kinect and the Arduino Uno. The Kinect detects my hands, head, and hips. This information is translated into x, y, z coordinates, processed with some 7th grade Algebra, and then sent to the Arduino over the serial port. The Arduino receives the signal, and converts it to a 38 kHz Infrared signal that the S107 can understand.
This is something I worked on over the summer last year and its finally out from under wraps. The idea is to create a version of the Mirror Box; effectively copying the real limb onto the Phantom Limb in order to relieve the pain that such people feel. This has been done once before with VR but now we have the kinect and cheaper VR goggles and XBee units from Adafruit, we can build a much cheaper rig and begin to investigate what works and what doesnt.
This is not to say that a lot of amazing Kinect-based applications won’t find their way to market. For all that individuals make their way through the world by grasping and holding things, we interact with one another socially through the Kinect’s two inputs–voice and touch. The Kinect offers a way to live in society with machines. Think HAL 9000 before he went crazy. There will be great applications, but I doubt very much that the successful ones will look anything like the video.
It’s worth remembering the road that brought us here. Writing for Wired, Tim Carmody gives an excellent overview. Back in 2010, Microsoft representatives were making vaguely threatening comments about Kinect hackers as Adafruit sponsored a $3,000 bounty on the creation of open-source drivers for the device. Microsoft quickly reversed course and it was later revealed that one of the Kinect’s designers, Johnny Lee, had secretly sponsored the bounty after he failed to convince Microsoft to open up their drivers. In effect, Microsoft has had to be dragged, kicking and screaming, into the future.
The few bits of genuine news in Microsoft’s CES keynote on Monday all concerned Kinect, the company’s natural user interface sensor. CEO Steve Ballmer announced that 18 million devices had been sold since launch, either as standalone units or bundled with Xbox 360. A smattering of Xbox content deals with Fox and others, using Kinect as a selling point.
And finally, Kinect for Windows: a brand-new software development kit, developer program and PC-optimized hardware device launching February 1, designed to decisively push Kinect beyond gaming and media, precisely when companies like Samsung are charging behind the Xbox with gesture recognition for TV sets.
Shining a light on Kinect and pairing it with Windows shows that even with PC sales slumping, Microsoft’s future is bigger than the PC, at least as it’s been narrowly construed. It also shows that Microsoft is working towards integration of its far-flung products at a level higher than a common set of orthogonal Metro tiles. And with Kinect and Windows Phone 7 drawing raves, Microsoft’s on the verge of regaining a reputation for innovation, not just domination.
But make no mistake: this was almost entirely an accident. The push to bring the Kinect to the PC and create a developer community for the device came almost entirely outside and in spite of Microsoft. And by wrapping its arms around Kinect development, Microsoft isn’t simply embracing it or even asserting its ownership; it’s also breaking that development community into pieces.
There was a time when Microsoft would not even consider a Kinect for Windows, but the open-source community created so many amazing projects (and products) a new effort was started to Window-ize and SDK-ize the Kinect to be part of all of this. And now Microsoft is selling the Kinect for Windows.
This Kinect Sensor for Windows has a shortened USB cable to ensure reliability across a broad range of computers and includes a small dongle to improve coexistence with other USB peripherals. The new firmware enables the depth camera to see objects as close as 50 centimeters in front of the device without losing accuracy or precision, with graceful degradation down to 40 centimeters. “Near Mode” will enable a whole new class of “close up” applications, beyond the living room scenarios for Kinect for Xbox 360.
The Kinect for Windows sensor unit is intended to be used with the following:
-Kinect for Windows Commercial SDK
-An application that was developed using the Kinect for Windows Commercial SDK and associated runtime software.
Note: The senor unit does not ship with any software, and will only operate with an application developed for Kinect for Windows.
-32 bit (x86) or 64 bit (x64) processor
-Dual-core 2.66-GHz or faster processor
-Dedicated USB 2.0 bus
-2 GB RAM
Utilize Kinect skeletal-tracking, sophisticated microphone array, and other sensor technologies
Link computers to Kinect devices running Windows 7 and Windows 8 Developer Preview
Run applications built with the Kinect for Windows Commercial Software Development Kit (SDK)
Use the Kinect for Windows SDK to build applications with C++, C#, or Visual Studio Basic by using Microsoft Visual Studio 2010
The sensor will only work on computers running the SDK softawre
It’s $249 -On the box is says “FOR COMMERCIAL USE”. And also says “Kinect for Windows Commercial Software Development Kit (SDK)”. That seems to include the commercial SDK. Not sure what the terms are, anyone know?
It seems to have different firmware, some different hardware… We’ll see if it works with the open-source drivers, and if not – someone will need to do a bounty to hack it, again… We wonder if they’re shipping hardware that can only be used if you agree to some terms before you get the SDK… It seems to be completely free?
We have chosen a hardware-only business model for Kinect for Windows, which means that we will not be charging for the SDK or the runtime; these will be available free to developers and end-users respectively. As an independent developer, IT manager, systems integrator, or ISV, you can innovate with confidence knowing that you will not pay license fees for the Kinect for Windows software or the ongoing software updates, and the Kinect for Windows hardware you and your customers use is supported by Microsoft.
It does say you need to buy this new hardware though…
Although we encourage all developers to understand and take advantage of the additional features and updates available with the new Kinect for Windows hardware and accompanying software, those developers using our SDK and the Kinect for Xbox 360 hardware may continue to use these in their development activities if they wish. However, non-commercial deployments using Kinect for Xbox 360 that were allowed using the beta SDK are not permitted with the newly released software. Non-commercial deployments using the new runtime and SDK will require the fully tested and supported Kinect for Windows hardware and software platform, just as commercial deployments do. Existing non-commercial deployments using our beta SDK may continue using the beta and the Kinect for Xbox 360 hardware; to accommodate this, we are extending the beta license for three more years, to June 16, 2016.
We don’t have an opinion on this yet, we’re jet-lagged – give us a few to think this one over