After the initial bounty placed to hack and release open source drivers for the Xbox 360 Kinect, a Google engineer upped the pot to those creating applications and programming tools for it.  Matt Cutts offered several ideas for starting points to begin cracking the Kinect’s software, one included a Minority Report-style user interface.

The first $1,000 prize would go to the person or team who writes the coolest open-source app, demo, or program using the Kinect. The second $1,000 prize would go to the person or team that makes it easier for people to create programs on a Linux operating system.

A week after the Kinect’s release, it was hacked to control the up and down motion, depth, and managed to take RGB images and displays them on an OpenGL window. The winner received $3,000 and an additional $2,000 donated in his name to the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF). Others have also hacked the Kinect to work on Apple’s OS X, but currently it only controls its camera and ability to track in RGB. Hector Martin also stated that the prize money from Adafruit will go towards further hacking of the Kinect.

Just three days later, a video was posted to YouTube that displayed an interactive application using the Kinect. Florian Echtler created a much requested application for the Kinect that allows a person to manipulate things on your screen like in the film Minority Report. His first app uses a multi-touch feature to maneuver images, resize and rotate them. Echtler used libfreeenct and libTISCH, open source languages, on an Linux Ubuntu system to create the application. He also stated that his application is not complete yet, but he is continuously working on different areas.


While some may argue that Microsoft is enraged because of the Kinect getting hacked, it would be wise for them to embrace the possibilities. They will more than likely follow in Apple’s footsteps and continually patch weak points that allow people to hack the Kinect. The U.S. court system also deemed jailbreaing legal, but Apple can still void warranties on their hardware after it has been modified. Microsoft regularly bans modded Xbox systems though, so it’s likely that hacked Kinect units will be deemed unusable on Xbox Live; however, those who are hacking the unit will probably not mind as they are using it for other means.

After seeing what capabilities could be introduced to the Kinect, do you think it is okay for programmers to use the Kinect in other ways then it was designed for?

Microsoft’s Xbox 360 Kinect was released November 4, 2010.

Source: Matt Cutts