Kinect hacked to show off how Windows 8 multitouch controls may work

By Tom Warren, on 12th Nov 10 2:00 am with Comments Off

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.

Firstly, Florian Echtler has taken the recently created open source camera driver and created his own multitouch UI “TISCH” software library. Echtler’s software shows off Minority Report style control for the Kinect running on a Linux distribution. The software is cross platform according to the developer page.

The second piece of Kinect hacking news comes in the form of the Mac. Theo Watson has released an OS X port of libfreenect, a library that can run Kinect’s output inside of OS X. Watson released a video demonstrating the Kinect running in Apple’s OS X operating system.

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.

With Windows 8 approximately two years away from general availability, Microsoft has the time to avoid any potential intellectual property issues and secure a number of key software patents. Canesta has secured 44 patents related to gesture control. Microsoft will likely port a number of improvements to Kinect during this time too. If Microsoft can perfect the technology and control most of the patents then it’s a strong market that the software giant will be dominant in. Hackers will only help refine certain usage scenarios and ideas for the future of the technology.