If Microsoft wasn’t so uptight about reverse engineering, there are a lot of awesome things we could do with Kinect. A peripheral that seems like it came out of a sci-fi movie, Kinect allows people to use their motions and voices to run software. And, following in that sci-fi vein, here are five awesome things that can be done with Microsoft’s criminally underutilized hardware.
1. 3D Printing
Yes, if you have the patience and the money, it is actually possible to do 3D printing through Kinect. Of course, one does have to consider the wisdom of spending so much money to make a replica of yourself when you are already the real thing, but it's pretty cool to have an action figure that looks like you.
2. Gaming With Disabilities
Often times, gamers cannot enjoy certain games because of disabilities that inhibit movement of the hands and arms. However, there are many games that would be perfectly suited to running only by voice. Think of turn-based strategy games such as Phantasy Star that don’t necessarily require reflexes or quick responses.
If Kinect can be integrated into pre-released games such as that, gamers without arms could play using voice commands such as “advance five steps” or “attack using Laser Gun.” Not only is this perfectly plausible, it would give many the chance to play games they may otherwise have been unable to.
3. Full Self-Replication in Games
Sort of like a digital 3D printing, the ability to recreate yourself in-game through Kinect has been vastly underutilized, even in the few products that claim to offer it. Many games, particularly on the PC, allow for custom designed character models to be used. If we could take our complete body image and integrate it in place of existing character models, it would only be another step towards total suspension of disbelief.
4. Doing Work On a TV
Just imagine: a gigantic projector that you are running your PC on. You brush aside a Wikipedia window with the flick of a hand, only to turn to Photoshop and work on your latest masterpiece or Excel to create your latest portfolio. Couple this with the ability to share the same screen across numerous Kinect compatible offices or homes and, suddenly, you’re Tom Cruise from Minority Report.
5. Robot Replication
We are already able to control robotic arms using PCs, so we should theoretically be able to control them using a Kinect. Suddenly, with the right amount of money, we would be able to have replicas of R2D2 and C3PO follow the commands of our own bodies; that alone is enough for some tech geeks to get on this idea right now.
So, are any of these really too far-fetched? Not at all but, as I said before, Microsoft isn’t fond of hacking or reverse engineering (although they seem to have loosened up a bit lately). If people can start to work on Kinect without the fear of corporate backlash or voiding their warranty, maybe we might start to see some genuinely innovative uses for the peripheral.