Getting up for class or an early meeting always goes the same way: you get out of bed, and it goes downhill from there. But if a couple of researchers from Stanford and UC Santa Barbara are correct in their new book, in a few years we’ll all be meeting in virtual classrooms and conference rooms anyhow. This isn’t just the same old future hype, they say; technology has caught up with the vision, and the age of the avatar is imminent.
Remember those little wax figurines you'd get as a kid at zoos and aquariums? The ones in the shape of a lion or whale, stamped out of a machine, which you'd lose within a few weeks? This project, from freeform experimenters BlablabLAB, is sort of the modern version of that--with a trio of Kinect sensors and a 3-D printer in place of hot wax and whale-shaped molds. The best part: The figurine is modeled after you. Why let those dumb whales get all the glory?
Google got us good on Friday with their “Gmail Motion” April Fool’s joke, in which awkward businessmen perform calisthenics in front of a Kinect-esque motion sensor to reply to emails. While most of us just laughed, some hackers decided to make Gmail Motion a reality.
MIT's Robust Robotics Group seems to be as thrilled with the Kinect and the hacking possibilities that emanate therefrom as we are. They've attached a Kinect to a quadrocopter, which enables completely autonomous 3-D mapping and flight--even the processing is done on board.
I love Clipse. I love the Kinect (and Kinect hacks). I can't say I love Travis Barker, but two out of three is plenty to enjoy Clipse's latest for "Come N Get It," a video that calls on the monochrome color blocks and infrared grid of the Kinect's motion-capture tech for visual style points.
Willow Garage recently held a contest to see who could use their open-source Robot Operating System in conjunction with a hacked Microsoft Kinect in the most interesting or useful way. The first place winner is this Customizable Buttons hack. In short: draw buttons with a marker on a piece of paper, then press them. The Kinect recognizes the buttons and the pushing of said buttons, and executes commands--in this case, music. It's like a childhood dream come true.
One of the fundamental joys of the Kinect is lifting one arm, then the other, and seeing the movement mirrored by your on-screen avatar. Know what's even cooler than that? Seeing your movements mirrored by an actual physical robot.
When we last looked in on holographic telepresence tech, a University of Arizona team was impressively streaming near-real-time three-dimensional moving images, offering a glimpse of what telepresence could be once researchers iron out the wrinkles. Now, an MIT team is showing off a simplified scheme for streaming holographic video, using a single Xbox Kinect peripheral and standard graphics chips to create the fastest holographic video yet.
Oliver Kreylos, the Kinect-hacking pioneer who you might remember from our earlier roundups, can't seem to stop pushing the Kinect's 3-D holographic capabilities. This newest hack involves two Kinect sensors, a virtual office, and, improbably, a Nintendo Wii controller, but the end result is pretty amazing: Holographic video chat in full 3-D.