November 12, 2010

Hacker Cracks Code To Microsoft’s Kinect

Microsoft's Kinect controller has already succumbed to a hacker cracking its code just days after it was officially released.

The code to control the motion-captured device allows it to be used with a PC rather than the Xbox gaming console.

The hack will allow the new device to be used in schools, art projects and to help human-robot interaction.

Microsoft said it was not happy that the unofficial modifications had been made to the gadget's control system.

Electronics kit maker Adafruit said on November 4 that it would pay $1,000 to the first person to produce control software for the Kinect.

After Microsoft said it did not condone the reverse-engineering of its motion controller, Adafruit upped its prize money to $3,000.

Hacker Hector Martin won the contest by producing the first drivers and making them available for other to download and improve.

Martin got the Kinect working with a Linux laptop by using the drivers.

Microsoft told BBC in a statement that it wanted to point out that the Xbox 360 control system for the Kinect had not been hacked.

"What has happened is someone has created drivers that allow other devices to interface with the Kinect for Xbox 360," it said. "The creation of these drivers, and the use of Kinect for Xbox 360 with other devices, is unsupported.

It added: "We strongly encourage customers to use Kinect for Xbox 360 with their Xbox 360 to get the best experience possible."

The contest has given a Google group dedicated to open source use of Kinect a boost to about 400 members.

Many people are posting videos of themselves using Kinect with Apple machines and as a multi-touch interface. 

Adafruit said in a blog that it expected to see the Kinect starting to be used in all kinds of ways other than just for gaming.  It said it could become a way to interact with robots or art installations.

Martin said he would share the cash prize with other hackers that helped him get the Linux drivers working.  He said work was continuing to improve the control system to make it comparable as the one used by Xbox.


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