Hacking the Kinect

When it comes to tech, there are two things I certainly love: Flash, and Kinect. Some clever folks are combining the two with tricky hacks, and the results are nice.

Blitz Agency, a leading marketing/interactive agency here in LA, has a nice post compiling a lot of different hacks used to let Flash work with the motion capture capabilities of the Kinect platform. It’s all certainly far from production-ready, but if you’re a geek who loves experimenting, or if your company needs a new system for a demo or interactive presentation, you should really consider giving this a try.

Flash Kinect Demo from BLITZ on Vimeo.

Blitz details their approach to the problem with this little tech tidbit:

Their interest was piqued after Hector Martin and PrimeSenseâ„¢ released their open-source drivers, resulting in an online demo showing Kinect’s uses through a PC. Having worked with multiple UI technologies over the years, Gedrich and Flomin realized that if they could get Kinect to publish information that any UI platform could support, a slew of developers could use this same code to create breakthrough motion-based experiences using familiar markup languages.

The trick? A simple socket server. Using a C++ application to send all the skeleton data to a socket server, they were able to connect other technology to the socket, enabling use of the data.

Ah, socket servers. The old standby for hacking Flash on devices đŸ™‚

If you want to get into the code, hit up Blitz’s blog post on Flash + Kinect

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Michael Jackson on Kinect

Today marks the official release of Michael Jackson: The Experience for XBOX 360 Kinect. The game has been fairly popular on the Wii for a while now, but the motion capture system of the Kinect promised to make the gameplay even more entertaining.

Sadly, the early reviews indicate the game may not be as awesome as I was hoping.

I’ve always been a big fan of MJ’s art. Where would we be without his influence? Contemporary artists like Justin Timberlake, Usher, and Chris Brown made their careers by emulating him. I was hoping that the Kinect version, with its brilliant motion capture system, could bring a true MJ emulation experience to living rooms across the country, especially with the successful Dance Central (a game that I regularly kick ass at) as a template. Months ago, I expressed my excitement about the game to a friend. The conversation went something like this:

Me: Michael Jackson dance game coming to the Kinect! Hee Hee! Shomone!

Friend: Yeah…but look at who the publisher is. It’s Ubisoft. They’re gonna screw it up.

The game just came out so there’s no consensus on its quality yet, but early reviews from GameInformer and customer reviews on the Amazon sales page would indicate my friend was right. Ubisoft took a brilliant opportunity to produce one of the greatest games on the Kinect platform, and came up a bit short.

At the moment, you can get the game for $10 less at Amazon. So far the reviews say that while the game is disappointing, it’s still a fun way to kill some time and shake your groove thing in the comfort of your home. And if you’re a Michael Jackson fan, there’s plenty to love, even if the gameplay might not be the best. I may or may not get the game for myself, but if I do I’ll be sure to post a thorough review.