Open Exhibits has added to the base of knowledge about the Kinect by releasing a module that lets people write gesture-based applications for Kinect in Flash. Still, Spadacinni gives credit for that to people like Hector Martin, who released the open-source Open Kinect driver that many hackers have been using to extract and manipulate data from the device.
The ease with which people are now able to program for 3-D input “is an absolute turning point,” says Sean Kean, organizer of the New York City OpenKinect Meetup Group. “We will see a revolution.” Kean says that what’s being done with the Kinect is lowering the barriers that individuals face in experimenting with robotics and other advanced applications. The technology doesn’t just enable standing in front of a device and gesturing—it can be used for any sort of 3-D input, such as guiding a robot’s movements.
Indeed, hackers have used the technology to create a robot that can latch onto and follow a person, gesture-controlled interfaces for browsing news articles, and input for a 3-D display system.
All that was possible before, but not at such a low cost, says Garratt Gallagher, a robotics engineer who works at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory and has created several Kinect hacks. “Now,” Gallagher says, “we’ve gotten a giant step closer to all our science-fiction fantasies.”