You know you’ve got a hit device on your hands when it inspires people to start hacking it and using it to get creative. Microsoft’s Kinect is new to the market, but is already showing its presence in more than just video games. A group of researchers and students at the University of Southern California Institute for Creative Technologies have hacked the motion camera and retooled it to…wait for it…play World of Warcraft! That’s right, the Xbox 360 video game peripheral can now be used as a PC game peripheral.
Fortunately, the group has more noble goals than pwning troggs in Loch Modan. They’re creating software that maps a person’s skelatal movements with buttons on a keyboard. If successful, you might be able to do almost anything on a computer with motions and gestures. It could potentially be used to help those recovering from traumatic accidents as well. An early toolkit is already available for those hoping to experiment or contribute.
Six years ago, technology like this seemed like science fiction. Thanks to the Wii and Xbox 360, Minority Report-style airscreens could practically happen today. It’s amazing how video games are helping to advance technology and interfaces and it’s great to see a university recognizing and celebrating the possibilities of Kinect. They may be doing a better job than Microsoft at this point. Though it initially filed suit against some hackers, Microsoft has recently backpeddled and begun supporting Kinect innovations.