Kinect Two-fer: MoCap movie and robot control


It’s no mystery that we like the Kinect around here, which is why we’re bringing you a Kinect two-fer today.

We have seen video hacks using the Kinect before, and this one ranks up there on the coolness scale. In [Torben’s] short film about an animation student nearly missing his assignment deadline, the Kinect was used to script the animation of a stick figure model. The animation was captured and built in Maya, then overlaid on a separate video clip to complete the movie. The overall quality is great, though you can notice some of the typical “jitter” that the Kinect is known for, and there are a few places where the model sinks into the floor a bit.

If you want to try your hand at animation using the Kinect, all of the scripts used to make the movie are available on the creator’s site for free. [via Kinect-Hacks]

Our second Kinect item comes in the form of a gesture driven Lego MindStorms bot. Using OpenNI along with Primesense for body tracking, [rasomuro] was able to use simple motions to drive his NXT bot around the house. His movements are tracked by the Kinect sensor which are translated into commands relayed to the robot via his laptop’s Bluetooth connection. Since the robot has two motors, he mapped couple of simple arm motions to drive the bot around. We’ll be honest when we say that the motions remind us of Will Farrell’s “Frank the Tank” scene in Old School, but [rasomuro] says that he is trying to simulate the use of levers to drive the bot.  Either way, it’s pretty cool.

Videos of both hacks are embedded below for your perusal.

If you are interested in seeing some more cool Kinect hacks be sure to check out this Minecraft interface trio, this cool Kinect realtime video overlay, and this Kinect-Nerf gun video game interface.

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NXT hacks: tanks and heaters

Here’s a double-dose of Lego NXT goodness; a robotic tank and an automatic aquarium heater.

The image to the left is a robotic tank powered by the popular Lego Mindstorms NXT kit. The brains rest inside of a tube, including the controller brick, ultrasonic range finder, a gyroscope, and a compass. Two sets of treads surround each edge of the tube making us wonder which end is up? We’ve embedded a video of this beast after the break. You’ll see that the tank is incredibly agile in this configuration.

To the right is an aquarium heater. [Dave’s] kid were growing some tiny water dwellers which we’ve always know as Sea-Monkeys. The problem is that the tank needs to be between 72-80 degrees Fahrenheit for the little shrimp to thrive. He dug out his NXT controller and paired it up with the Lego temperature sensor and a dSwitch relay. This setup monitors the Aquarium for temperatures between 72-78 degrees and switches a lamp on an off to regulate the temperature. This keeps his kids and the stagnant pool happy.

Now that we’ve whet your appetite for NXT check out the wiimote operated NXT Segway and the NXT Sudoku solver.

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LEGO Mindstorms Sudoku Solver

Swedish hacker [Hans Andersson] is no stranger to puzzle-solving robots. His prior work, A Rubik’s cube-solving robot called Tilted Twister, made waves through the internet last year. [Hans’] latest project only has to work in two dimensions, but is no less clever. This new robot, built around the LEGO Mindstorms NXT system, “reads” a printed sudoku page, solves the puzzle, then fills out the solution right on the same page, confidently and in ink. It’s a well-rounded project that brings together an unexpected image scanner, image processing algorithms, and precise motor control, all using standard NXT elements.

The building instructions have not yet been posted, but if the video above and the directions for his prior ’bot are any indication, then we’re in for a treat; he simply has a knack for explaining things concisely and with visual clarity. The source code and the detailed PDF diagrams for Tilted Twister are as gorgeous as his new robot’s penmanship.

[thanks Eric]