Regular readers might remember that we’ve mentioned Microsoft’s impressive new games controller, Kinect, before – and might even recall that we gave one away in last year’s Christmas competition.

If you haven’t run into it previously, Kinect differs from other games controllers in that you don’t actually need to hold anything to use it. Using a clever camera and sensor set up, Kinect follows your movements so you can control games with your whole body.

Not just for consoles

Kinect is an advanced piece of kit. And as it has a standard USB connector on the end, it was only a matter of time before someone worked out how to make it work with a standard computer. (The $3,000 bounty that one firm put up can’t have hurt either.)

So, the creation of open source drivers for the Kinect means that if you’re technically-minded, you can buy the kit for a little over £100, plug it in to your computer, then start playing. And that’s where things get really interesting.

The best Kinect hacks

Since those open source drivers were announced, enthusiastic geeks all over the world have been experimenting with Kinect. The results, at times, have been astonishing.

Remember Minority Report, the Tom Cruise film which featured an outlandish ‘wave your hands and it works’ computer interface you’d swear was years away? Well Kinect actually makes this a reality – just check out this video. The bottom of the film shows what Kinect sees – the top shows how the movements translate onto the screen:

(Watch on YouTube instead.)

That’s not all, of course. A quick poke around on YouTube reveals lots of other interesting, clever and quirky hacks. Take this New Scientist video – it includes an unusual glove puppet and a man wearing a virtual bra (well, we did say ‘quirky’):

(Watch on YouTube instead.)

If that’s not satisfied your curiosity, how about a virtual foot-operated piano, like in the classic Tom Hanks film ‘Big’? Or an air guitar, a light sabre, or some lights that you can control by waving your arms like the conductor of an orchestra?

Once you’ve seen a few of these hacks in action, you start to realise that Kinect could have an impact in all sorts of fields – not just gaming. And all the stuff we’ve mentioned here has happened in the few months since November, when Kinect launched.

We can’t wait to see what happens in the months ahead as people start to really push the capabilities of the device. And we wouldn’t be surprised to see Kinect – or its successor – popping up in offices as it proves itself a viable controller for ‘serious’ stuff as well as games.

Have you seen any Kinect hack used for business purposes yet? Let us know

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