Kinect is a pretty great idea, (I didn’t say original, so put down the flame axe please) and over the past few years since its initial launch, people have been able to make some pretty crazy things with what little access they’ve had to the official software toolkit. Starting today, that’s all about to change, as Microsoft has decided to make Kinect’s entire source code available to the public for download.
According to the brand-new Kinect blog Microsoft has just set up, the team has, “posted a total of 22 unique samples in C#, C++, and Visual Basic.” Everything you need to get started can be found here on Codeplex.
A curious choice so many years later after Kinect had already launched, Microsoft’s Ben Lower offered a brief explanation for the decision:
“We’re doing this for a few reasons:
Easy Access: we will continue to release our sample applications as part of our Developer Toolkit. However, that’s a large download & install that can be cumbersome if you just want to quickly view or access code on the web
Reuse The Code: we’re releasing all the samples under an Apache 2.0 license so that you can take the code and reuse, remix, etc. Also, we’re using a Git repository so it’s easy clone & fork if you want
Get Feedback: we will use CodePlex’s built-in feedback & discussion tools to get community input on the samples. We want to hear from you to understand what we can do better with the samples
Faster Updates: we will be able to update samples more quickly on CodePlex (compared to Toolkit releases). CodePlex also has a “Subscribe” feature that enables you to follow the project and get notified when something changes, a bug gets fixed, someone says something smart in the discussions, etc. (note: the subscription feature doesn’t actually track the smartness of a post but one can dream :-))”
In regards to the newly designed Kinect blog, Lower also mentioned that “The developer blog will focus on going behind the scenes with the K4W engineering team and will go deeper on the technology and APIs, share tips & tricks, and provide other tidbits of information relevant to those building K4W applications.”
Considering all of the hacks and modifications to Kinect thus far were created using only the official toolkit, I’m incredibly excited to see what developers, programmers, and designers of any kind can come up with. Perhaps someone can come up with the next great way to bridge Kinect with games in a way that truly enhances the experience, providing me with something so unique I’d actually prefer a more Kinect-heavy experience as opposed to using my controller. As it stands right now, the best way to integrate Kinect into a gaming experience is to keep the controller in the player’s hand and use Kinect for basic voice commands and infrequent gestures. Hopefully, we can do better than that in time for whatever Microsoft has cooking up with their next-gen console.
Are any of you aspiring programmers? What kinds of unique applications would you like to see Kinect being used for? Share your ideas in the comments.