The numbers keep on coming for Kinect, Microsoft’s “controllerless controller” addon for the Xbox 360. 1 million units were shipped within 10 days, and yesterday it was announced that 2.5 million units were shipped within 25 days of global launch. This is outstripping sales of Nintendo Wii devices when they launched, and even selling at a faster rate than the iPad ever did – Microsoft say they are on target to reach 5 million units by the end of the year.
But gamer geeks and families jumping around living rooms isn’t the only application Kinect is seeing. The hacker community has had its hands on Kinect for a while now, and has been busy working out its USB protocol to allow developers to connect their Kinect devices to their PCs and build applications on top of it.
Once that first connection to the PC was made and the drivers released on Github, all kinds of hacks have been put in place. Robots are using Kinect devices as sensors, Kinect is being used to control web browsers, there have been fancy visualisations, and 2D video converted to 3D. The applications in research have also begun to be felt in the academic community despite its usually slow uptake. The appearance of such a cheap and reliable method of obtaining depth and video information which can be directly overlaid provides exciting opportunities in healthcare research, robotics and sensor applications, human-computer interaction, and many other fields.
If you want to try your hand at working with Kinect, check out our useful guide which will walk you through getting set up with Ubuntu and a Kinect device to do some simple depth detection.