Students are learning to hack a piece of hardware that until recently, they probably only used for gaming–Microsoft Kinect. Kinect, which broke records with the fastest sales in consumer electronics history within its first 60 days of sales, is a sensor input device for the Xbox gaming console.
Kinect does what it sounds like–that is, it connects the user with the computer, whether that computer is an Xbox or literally a computer, via sensors including an RGB camera, depth sensor and microphone. By using Microsoft’s Kinect software development kit (SDK), developers can not only hack the hardware, they can do so with permission from Microsoft–and teachers are taking advantage of Kinect as a learning tool.
As computer science teacher Bryan Baker put it recently at the ISTE 2011 conference, “I want to light a fire for you and your kids because this is really cool stuff.” Baker uses Kinect and the XNA Game Studio as a learning tool for high school students who are learning programming and game design.