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Thekstategeek is new and improved. TECHTOIT.COM

January 29, 2011 Leave a comment

WE HAVE MOVED. Due to our unexpected success, we have changed domains and moved to a “big boy” server. If you reach this page via a search, or reference or anything really, then click the link below to take you to our new site – TECHTOIT.COM. New logo, new slogan, new look, new feel… it’s the real deal.

WOW THAT SOUNDS AWESOME! TAKE ME TO TECHTOIT.COM RIGHT NOW!

Kinecthacks.net up for sale

January 25, 2011 Leave a comment

kristofferR of KinectHacks.net is putting his site up for sale due to personal reasons. The content on the site has been written by him and a lead writer, who is interested in maintaining a steady stream of content. The site is currently up for sale on Flippa.com, the full auction can be found here. The bidding is currently at $5,050 with 1 day and 19 hours left to go. Nothing is wrong with the site, in fact, it’s quite the contrary. Today KinectHacks celebrated their 1 millionth view in a little over 2 months.

This is only a sample of their success, they also have a massive following on the following social networking platforms:

The writing itself is kind of lacking, most posts have a little bit of a description, a link and an embedded YouTube video, but the content itself is especially fascinating. I myself, being a Kinect enthusiast/owner have visited the site on a few occasions to see how well they are doing being the first site unique to hacking Microsoft’s Kinect. This alone has propelled them to success in such a short amount of time. The auction contains everything associated with the site, from the kinecthacks@gmail email account to a list of the best sources for creating new content and 30 days guidance and support to make the transition as smooth as possible.

A particular section of the auction lists the monetary potential of the site:

The site hasn’t been monetized properly yet.

It could probably earn at least $500-1000 a month just from the advertising space alone. There are already companies developing commercial computer applications for the Kinect and advertising space on the most popular blog for Kinect hacking would surely be interesting for them. Affiliate marketing for Kinect’s is also an option (we’ve earned $239 from Amazon so far).

The real goldmine, however, lies in selling an ebook/information product about hacking the Kinect on the site. Over 8 million Kinects have already been sold (in less than three months). A lot of those are hungry for an easy to understand information product/guide about how to hack the Kinect. It’s a hungry marked just waiting to be filled and the KinectHacks site would be the optimal way to promote such a product.

We haven’t even got to the future yet. How many Kinect will be sold during 2011? 10 million? 20 million? Just imagine what you could make then.

I would have no problem at all taking the reins of an operation like that 😉 As for the “goldmine” that kristofferR mentioned, it doesn’t exist yet, so don’t get too terribly excited. There are plenty of links to sites that have instructions for the gamer/hacker well-versed in code and things of that nature, but they have yet to create the guide that will help ease the rest of us into the procedures.

If interested in the auction, visit the link above to bid on it yourself.

More Kinect Hacks!

January 23, 2011 Leave a comment

Minecraft + Kinect = Awesome Statues

The first part of this hack, allows you to use the Kinect to scan images of yourself and whatever else you choose into the game Minecraft. The creator of said hack, Nathan Viniconis states the goal of this hack: take a sequence of snapshots from a Kinect and transform them into a stop motion animation within Minecraft. This is the second phase of the Minecraft-Kinect integration project. To find tutorials and a plethora of juicy details on the project, visit his website here.

The next part of this hack allows you allows you to scale said statue and, even better, now supports animations for up to three seconds. So you’re rock statue clone can now wave and say “hi”!

Kinect Mapping the World

Martin Szarski strapped a Kinect to his car, connected it to a laptop and used a Nexus One for geotagging and took off creating a “point cloud” that collected data on a stretch of road, including both buildings and scenery (as seen in the image above). The project uses libfreenect and the .NET wrapper for same, along with OpenTK for the Matrix maths and Proj.NET for the spatial transforms. There is a lot more included with this hack considering Szarski wrote his own software intitially to register the depth image from the Kinect and turn it in to a metric point cloud with real distances – those details can be found on his blog Decorator Pattern (that has the same theme as this one).The possibilities contained within this hack are very substantial. This technology could/should be used in future games to create ultra-realistic maps of areas familiar to the gamer to make more of an immersive experience.

Angry Birds controlled by the Kinect

A YouTube user known as TheTVTaster has crafted a way to use his Kinect and his iPod Touch to play Angry Birds on his PC. Unfortunately, there is no further details on the video’s description, nor on Kinect Hacks where it was posted, but I hope you enjoy the video nonethless!

[Source: Joystiq, KinectHacks]

Minecraft documentary coming via 2 Player Productions

January 23, 2011 Leave a comment

For those of you who have never heard of Minecraft, Joystiq describes the indie game as a sandbox construction game created by Markus Persson and is currently in pre-release alpha. Minecraft development started around May 10, 2009. The game involves players creating and destroying various types of blocks in a three dimensional environment. The player can form fantastic structures, creations and artwork across the various multiplayer servers in multiple game modes. The underground game, which can be downloaded here, has undergone an explosion in popularity over the last 12 months. The appeal lies in being able to create whatever you want, the possibilities are endless – a giant panda, a tree house, a roller coaster, COD maps… yes even COD maps. Estate from MW2, Rust from MW2, Nuketown from Black Ops and Shipment from MW are among the first shown after a quick search in YouTube.

Indie filmmakers 2 Player Productions will be releasing a documentary on Mojang Studios, the creators of Minecraft, sometime in February. After scrutinizing 2PP’s Twitter account, you can find a tweet from a Mojang employee that describes the film crew “documenting [their] first stumbling steps” back in January. All of you Minecraft junkies can hop along in jubilee next month.

[Sources: Joystiq, Bytejacker]

Kinect hacks abound!

January 15, 2011 Leave a comment

The Microsoft Kinect is a technological anomaly way ahead of its time. The device features an RGB camera, depth sensor and multi-array microphone running proprietary software, which provide full-body 3D motion capture, facial recognition and voice recognition capabilities. The Kinect is leaps and bounds ahead of Nintendo’s Wii console and its simply a peripheral. IGN awarded the device a 7.5 out of 10 stating that the

Kinect can be a tremendous amount of fun for casual players, and the creative, controller-free concept is undeniably appealing.

The Kinect even took the thunder from Apple after selling 2.5 million units in the first 25 days, becoming the fastest selling gadget in history. Within the first few days hacking struck the Kinect scene, and at first Microsoft was pissed, but then had a change of heart:

The first thing to talk about is, Kinect was not actually hacked. Hacking would mean that someone got to our algorithms that sit inside of the Xbox and was able to actually use them, which hasn’t happened. Or, it means that you put a device between the sensor and the Xbox for means of cheating, which also has not happened. That’s what we call hacking, and that’s what we have put a ton of work and effort to make sure doesn’t actually occur. What has happened is someone wrote an open-source driver for PCs that essentially opens the USB connection, which we didn’t protect, by design, and reads the inputs from the sensor. The sensor, again, as I talked earlier, has eyes and ears, and that’s a whole bunch of noise that someone needs to take and turn into signal.

Since then, hackers have rejoiced and proceeded to create some of the coolest things you have ever seen: controlling robots, scanning rooms, playing air guitars with real sound, drawing with physics and much, much more are just some of the things hackers have been able to do in a short amount of time. I think it’s important to note that hackers aren’t all bad people, even the glorified students of MIT are included in the pool dubbed “hackers.”

For the tinkerer

The first hack in this collection comes from the esteemed halls of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Inspired by the graphical user interface in the movie Minority Report, starring Tom Cruise, the brainiacs in the bowels of MIT designed a hand recognition system that was sophisticated enough to recognize palms and fingers and created picture-scrolling software to use with it.

The second comes from the Japanese coder Takayuki Fukatsu who essentially created stealth mode. Reminds me of the invisibility cloak in Harry Potter. Fukatsu exploited the openFrameworks to give Kinect a mode where it tracks your movement and position, but turns the dull details of your visage into an almost perfectly transparent outline. It does not actually make you see-through but skins an image of the background onto your body in real time thus creating virtual camouflage.

This last in the tinkerer section is the interactive Windows 7 desktop created by Evoluce1. The following are two videos that show the capabilities of Kinect + PC and it is glorious, to say the least. Navigable applications demoed are Google Maps, Media Center, MS Paint, Internet Explorer, Notepad and Google Earth. It truly is the future of how we will interact with our computers.

For the artist

The Keyboard Anywhere hack, which employs a little Python and the libfreenect library to offer up a piano keyboard on any flat surface of almost any size. You can use your hands on a desk or as the fellas in the video below demonstrate, you can use the floor as a huge keyboard a la Tom Hanks in the movie Big.

The Air Guitar prototype is the epitome of motion tracking technology. Not much needs to be explained… a hacker brought to life every rock n’ roll fan’s dream – actually producing music by flailing your arms around in the air and headbanging like you’re the next Brian Johnson (lead singer of ACDC).

The Interactive Puppet prototype reminds me of the sock puppets I use to make as a tyke on steroids. This program was created using libfreenect Kinect drivers and ofxKinect. The system is doing skeleton tracking on the arm and determining where the shoulder, elbow, and wrist is, using it to control the movement and posture of the giant funky bird!

For the gamer

The following videos are from a man known as demize2010 within the depths of YouTube who uses a Kinect Hack known as FAAST and incorporates the Wiimote (with a program known as GlovePIE).

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2


Max Payne

Rainbow Six

Visit the FAAST’s homepage for instructions on setting up Kinect and installing their interface. Demize2010 also features two videos in the following section that illustrate how the Kinect can be used with an emulator to play games from the good ol’ days. Where little plumbers in red overalls collect mushrooms instead of where vulgar, rugged mercenaries destroy alien races that are hellbent on destroying humanity 😉

For the retro gamer

This first two hacks use FAAST and snes9x to bring the Legend of Zelda and Doom to the Kinect. Demize2010 states “Controls [for Zelda] aren’t quite as responsive as they could be at this stage – wiggling around frantically to get those on/off button states right is quite a challenge! The controls are a bit better then this, but running the emulator and maximized fast window together nerfs my cheap laptop.” And “Doom controls quite nicely using this scheme though the thresholds need tweaking for more precise movements. I minimize the fast window half way through this so that it stops impacting the responsiveness of the movements.”

Legend of Zelda SNES

Doom SNES

The next video has gotten 1, 341, 337 views on YouTube – a compilation from yankeyan that shows him playing Super Mario Bros. 1, 2 and 3 on the Kinect. He says:

Proof of concept. Celebrating 25 years of Mario. I programmed it to recognize my motions and passed the virtual button presses to the NES emulator. I could have placed a simulated keypad right in front of me that I can press with my hands, but I thought full body gestures were more in the spirit of Kinect. Of course, Mario isn’t designed to be played like this, so this is really really hard. Drivers using OpenKinect, NES emulation using FCEUX.

Lastly, for the nerd

This last category is kind of a mesh between the tinkerer, the artist and the gamer. It’s for those whom enjoy gaming, yet also prefer to delve deeper into the Kinect’s ability and see what it truly can do in an artistic manner. The first of which is real time lightsaber rendering. The same yankeyan who brought Mario Kinect to the world brought lightsaber-wielding to it as well. He tracked a wooden stick and overlaid a glowing effect on the computer. Drivers using OpenKinect, image processing, tracking, and rendering using OpenCV. Audio recorded and processed using Audacity and played using libao.

Now this next one is just kind of freaky. Yankeyan teaches his Kinect to recognize different items, then quizzes it. To create this hack, he uses using OpenKinect (drivers), OpenCV (image processing and recognition), FestVox (speech synthesis) and CMU Sphinx (speech recognition).

Teaching his Kinect

Quizzing his Kinect

And the very last hack I felt worthy to put in this gallery comes from YouTube user okreylos (or Oliver Kreylos) who highlights the possibility of 3D video capture on the Kinect. It began with a video 2 months ago in which he discusses the possibility of 3D video capture by enhancing the clip:

By combining the color and the depth image captured by the Microsoft Kinect, one can project the color image back out into space and create a “holographic” representation of the persons or objects that were captured.

He then followed that up with a video titled 2 Kinects 1 Box (a reference to the dirtiest of dirty videos?) that shows the first test of merging the 3D video streams from two Kinect cameras into a single 3D reconstruction of an object. The cameras were placed at an angle of about 90 degrees, aimed at the same spot in 3D space. It’s pretty incredible what he has managed to create:

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And that concludes my Kinect hack gallery, to try your hand at hacking the Kinect visit the following site:

http://openkinect.org/wiki/Getting_Started

[Sources: KinectHacks (the header of this article is their logo), demize2010, okreylos and yankeyan on YouTube, Wikipedia, IGN, Microsoft]