Ask Hackaday: What are we going to do with the new Kinect?

kinect

Yesterday Microsoft announced their new cable box, the Xbox One. Included in the announcement is a vastly improved Kinect sensor. It won’t be available until next Christmas, but now the question is what are we going to do with it?

From what initial specs that can be found, the new version of the Kinect will output RGB 1080p video over a USB 3.0 connection to the new Xbox. The IR depth camera of the original Kinect has been replaced with a time of flight camera – a camera that is able to send out a pulse of light and time how long it takes for photons to be reflected back to the camera. While there have been some inroads into making low-cost ToF cameras – namely Intel and Creative’s Interactive Gesture Camera Development Kit and the $250 DepthSense 325 from SoftKinetic – the Kinect 2.0 will be the first time of flight camera you’ll be able to buy for a few hundred bucks at any Walmart.

We’ve seen a ton of awesome Kinect hacks over the years. Everything from a ‘holographic display’ that turns any TV into a 3D display, computer vision for robots, and a 3D scanner among others. A new Kinect sensor with better 3D resolution can only improve existing projects and the time of flight sensor – like the one found in Google’s driverless car – opens up the door for a whole bunch of new projects.

So, readers of Hackaday, assuming someone can write a driver in a few days like the Kinect 1.0, what are we going to do with it?

While we’re at it, keep in mind we made a call for Wii U controller hacks. If somebody can crack that nut, it’ll be an awesome remote for robots and FPV airplanes and drones.

Microsoft IllumiRoom breaks your video game out of its television prison

microsoft-illumiroom

We see a lot of video game tech coming out of the three console giants (Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo). With one look we can usually predict what is going to be a flop. Case and point is the Wii U whose sales have been less than extraordinary and Sony Move which is motion control directed as hardcore games who we believe are perfectly happy with the current evolution of their dual shock controllers. But this time around we think Microsoft has it nailed. They’re showing off technology they call IllumiRoom which uses a projector to bring your entire gaming room into the experience.

The image above is not doctored. This is a picture of IllumiRoom in action. A projector on the coffee table automatically calibrates to the room (using Kinect 3D data for mapping) in order to show realistic graphic rendering on the non-flat projection surfaces. In our mind, this comes straight out of Kinect hacking projects like the Hadouken projector. With this in place, the game designers are given free rein to come up with all kinds of different ways to use the feature. Stick with us after the break to see what they’ve developed.

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[Ben Heck] builds his smallest 360 laptop ever

[Ben Heck] is no stranger to building Xbox 360 laptops. Over the years he’s built dozens, but for this week’s episode of The Ben Heck Show he’s throwing down the gauntlet and building the smallest Xbox laptop ever.

The latest and greatest Xbox laptop build is based around the newest and smallest  $199 4 Gig Xbox. A few compromises had to be made to turn this console into a laptop, though: The power that would have gone to a Kinect was repurposed to power the very thin 15.6″ LED LCD, while the port that would power a hard drive was used to drive a perfboard stereo amplifier. You can check out the official [Ben Heck] blog post here.

The final build is extremely compact and much smaller than [Ben Heck]‘s previous Xbox laptop builds. At just 2.125″ thick and 16 ” wide and 9 ” long, it’s quite possibly the smallest Xbox that’s possible to build. Without a new hardware revision from Microsoft (which seems unlikely at this point), this is probably the smallest an Xbox 360 laptop can be. We tip our hat to [Ben], and wish him luck in the next season of The Ben Heck Show.

GameGun makes Call of Duty more immersive

In an effort to improve his Call of Duty gaming experience, Reddit user [Harbingerx81] built a custom controller out of an Airsoft gun. Not only does this gun feature all the buttons and joysticks normally found on a stock xbox controller, it’s also loaded up with accelerometers and gyros so his on-screen character points his gun wherever [Harbingerx] points his gun.

From the imgur album, we can see that [Harbingerx] modded an Airsoft gun with a few buttons, d-pads, and switches optimized for Call of Duty. What really gets us is the clever use of accelerometers and a gun-mounted HDMI display (with a wireless HDMI adapter) to provide a home-made virtual reality setup for one of the most popular games.

Building this controller/display wasn’t cheap – it cost [Harbingerx] upwards of $600. A good price, we’re thinking, since the Oculus Rift will be north of $300 along with the added cost of a gun-shaped xbox controller.

humanoid Robot Kinects with its enviroment

[Malte Ahlers] from Germany, After having completed a PhD in neurobiology, decided to build a human sized humanoid robot torso. [Malte] has an interest in robotics and wanted to  show case some of his skills.The project is still in its early development but as you will see in the video he has achieved a nice build so far.

A1 consists of a Human sized torso with two arms, each with five (or six, including the gripper) axes of rotation, which have been based on the robolink joints from German company igus.de. The joints are tendon driven by stepper motors with a planetary gear head attached. Using an experimental controller which he has built, [Malte] can monitor the position of the axis by monitoring the encoders embedded in the joints.

The A1 torso features a head with two degrees of freedom, which is equipped with a Microsoft Kinect sensor and two Logitech QuickCam Pro 9000 cameras. With this functionality the head can spatially ”see” and ”hear”. The head also has speakers for voice output, which can be accompanied by an animated gesture on the LCD screen lip movements for example. The hands feature a simple gripping tool based on FESTO FinGripper finger to allow the picking up of misc items.

Kinetic Space: software for your Kinect projects

For all of you that  found yourselves wanting to use Kinect to control something but had no idea what to do with it, or how to get the data from it, you’re in luck. Kineticspace is a tool available for Linux/mac/windows that gives you the tools necessary to set up gesture controls quickly and easily. As you can see in the video below, it is fairly simple to set up. You do you action, set the amount of influence from each body part (basically telling it what to ignore), and save the gesture. This system has already been used for tons of projects and has now hit version 2.0.

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Pick up that can, [Jeri]

We all need an excuse to play Half-Life 2 sometimes. [Jeri Ellsworth] put together a My First Crowbar controller to throw a few headcrabs across the room. It’s pretty much Half-Life 2 for the Wii.

The build is very simple – just a tilt switch hot glued to the underside of a childs-size crowbar. Two leads go from the tilt switch to the contacts on a (PS3?) controller. All you need to do to attack is swing the crowbar wildly.

[Jeri] has us wondering what other awesome game controllers could be made. Of course we’ve been wanting a real-life Gravity Gun or Portal Gun for years now, but right now we’re thinking about a real Katamari. We might need more hot glue.

As far as building our own, we’re thinking about using one of the Cheap DIY tilt switches we saw the other day. It’s a simple build, and sure looks like a lot of fun.

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