This week Microsoft announced the beta release of the Kinect for Windows SDK, allowing developers to work with motion control and voice recognition. After initially forbidding developers to create non-Xbox 360 applications using Kinect, Microsoft stated that they purposely left the Kinect open to allow access by developers.
With the Kinect SDK, the door is now wide open for the development of applications which use natural user interfaces. Initial efforts by developers to hack the Kinect resulted in applications which allowed painting 3D images in mid-air, and others which tethered the Kinect’s motion controls to a functioning robot.
The topic was discussed by Microsoft’s director of incubation for Xbox, Alex Kipman, in 2010. He stated that “Hacking would mean that someone got to our algorithms that sit on the side of the Xbox and was able to actually use them, which hasn’t happened. 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.”