WITHIN THREE HOURS of release, a clever hacker has managed to reverse engineer the protocol used by Microsoft's Kinect and released an open source driver for the device.
Kinect is Microsoft's answer to the motion controller present in Nintendo's Wii games console and does away with the need for players to hold a physical device. Using motion sense cameras, the Kinect tracks players' movements converting them to in-game controls. Until now the only device able to use the Kinect was the Xbox 360, but that looks set to change.
Unlike the majority of products released by the Vole, Kinect really is pretty neat technology and as such a $2,000 bounty was put up for anyone that managed to reverse engineer the driver and open source the code allowing the device to be used in general purpose computers.
Apparently, hacking the device wasn't particularly hard according to Hector Martin, the chap responsible for demonstrating what the Kinect actually sees through its various cameras and sensors. Martin recorded a video of the Kinect working on Linux, though with the driver open sourced it shouldn't be particularly hard to compile it for other operating systems.
Given that the Kinect has a USB interface, the lack of drivers was until now the only real limitation to making use of it elsewhere, on machines other than the Vole's Xbox 360 console.
What is arguably Microsoft's most impressive product of the year has been set free by an open source Linux coder, perhaps a harbinger of things to come. µ
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