Flying Kinect is the latest cool Kinect hack

By Tom Warren, on 6th Dec 10 12:26 pm with Comments Off

The latest Kinect hack demonstrates how a Kinect could be mounted on top of a quadrocopter and used as a 3D radar to maneuver objects autonomously.
The work, spotted by Engadget, is part of the STARMAC Project in the Hybrid Systems Lab at UC Berkeley (EECS department). The project owners, Patrick Bouffard and Claire Tomlin explain their work in a YouTube video description:

“The attached Microsoft Kinect delivers a point cloud to the onboard computer via the ROS [3] kinect driver, which uses the OpenKinect/Freenect project’s driver for hardware access. A sample consensus algorithm fits a planar model to the points on the floor, and this planar model is fed into the controller as the sensed altitude. All processing is done on the on-board 1.6 GHz Intel Atom based computer, running Linux (Ubuntu 10.04).

A VICON motion capture system is used to provide the other necessary degrees of freedom (lateral and yaw) and acts as a safety backup to the Kinect altitude–in case of a dropout in the altitude reading from the Kinect data, the VICON based reading is used instead. In this video however, the safety backup was not needed.”

Microsoft’s Kinect for Xbox 360 has become a popular accessory for both console owners and “hackers”.  Microsoft revealed in November that it has sold 2.5 million Kinect units worldwide in just 25 days.

Whilst Microsoft is shifting as many devices as it can, hackers are hard at work ripping apart Microsoft’s controller-less Xbox 360 accessory. Recent developments have shown off Minority Report style multitouch control and the Kinect running on Mac OS X. Microsoft said earlier this month that it left the USB connection on the Kinect open, “by design.” Kinect “hackers” have recently taken the device to new heights. Videos emerged of device owners fully controlling Windows 7 and interactive prototype puppets. Kinect hacking is only at the very early stages but what’s clear is hackers are demonstrating the potential of the technology for use on PCs. Microsoft recently purchased 3D gesture experts Canesta. Microsoft’s investment in this technology is likely to see them focus heavily on bringing gesture based control to Windows 8. Earlier this year a number of Windows 8 product slides leaked from a HP employee that pointed towards some new product features. Kinect integration, a Windows App Store and fast boot were all promised. Microsoft previously purchased 3DV systems, who also make gesture recognition technology. With the push for this technology in gaming, it’s only natural that Microsoft would also want to port this to Windows.

Microsoft launched its controller-less console accessory for the Xbox 360 across the world earlier this month. The Kinect sensor is a horizontal bar that sits at the base of your TV. The device has an RGB camera, depth sensor and multi-array microphone which runs proprietary software. Kinect allows for full-body 3D motion capture, facial recognition, and voice recognition. Owners will be able to interact with games titles using just their body. Pausing TV and fast forwarding movies can be achieved using a mix of hand movements and voice control.