Xbox Kinect is a Hacker’s Horn O’Plenty

While you’re still recovering from your Thanksgiving tryptophan-induced food coma (myth busted?), developers ’round the globe have been enjoying the hackable goodness that is the Kinect for Xbox from Microsoft. You may remember one such mod we mentioned a few weeks ago, as UC Davis visualization researcher Oliver Kreylos showed us the Kinect can be used to make partially 3D holographic video images.

The hacks just keep on coming, and some of the potential uses for the Kinect technology look truly inspiring. One of the more fascinating examples comes from students at the MIT Media Lab Fluid Interfaces Group who have modded the Kinect to be used to control navigation within a Web browser. Think Tom Cruise in Minority Report, whipping through files with flicks of his wrist. Yeah, it’s kind of like that.

On the lighter side of things, one developer thought it was only appropriate to use the latest gaming technology to control the most classic of games: Super Mario. Running in place with some leaning helps Mario move, and jumping and ducking before the Kinect’s sensors produces equal reactions from the famed Italian plumber.

It may not be the “best” controller for the game, but it still goes to show that the Kinect has some incredible potential as openly hackable sensory technology. And we’re not just talking about holographic video projects and gesture-based browsing; the Kinect could also end up being a tool for expression, art and performance thereof.

Take for instance the video by Atsushi Tadokoro embedded above showing him creating music in virtual space using his modded Kinect. It’s one of the more beautiful Kinect mod videos, and really shows a side of the possibilities that many may not have realized could come of the technology.

For more on these hacks and others, check out this blog post by digital creative strategist Chris Grayson, who has been flooding his Twitter feed with great #KinectHack examples.


  1. says

    Games have been traditional favorites of hackers since the days of the dial-in Bulletin Board Systems (BBSes). In the classic sense of the term, “hacker” refers to someone who can figuratively take a door knob apart and put it back together in such a way that the door knob works better than it did before it was taken apart. Robert.