Kinect - Part 1

So I disappear¬†for 3 weeks… What have I been up to?¬†Well, I’ve been up to this:

What is this you ask? This is a piece of software that is actually a programming language. It’s called LabVIEW and this programming language was built for “real time data acquisition.” Essentially, LabVIEW is a programming language that is built for things that need to happen in “real time” and also allows for analysis and debugging in “real time” which is much different then any other programming language out there.

So what is the Kinect and why did you write it for LabVIEW? Well, I am a technology enthusiast by trade; One of my favorite things to do is mess with robots and think of new ways I can put everyday technology to use with these robots and LabVIEW is the language that I can do it in. The Kinect itself is a product created by Microsoft that essentially creates a 3D camera and this allows Microsoft to use it for controller-free gaming on the Xbox. Now, this is only one application out of tens of thousands that can be realized with the Kinect and it’s 3D Camera. My mission is to use the Kinect to help open up the possibility of a wide array of applications and do something cool myself while I’m at it, but there’s a lot to do before we can get there.

The first step was to reverse engineer the Kinect and figure out how it works and how we can make it work for us. This became a huge task over the past few months currently being accomplished by an initiative and community called OpenKinect. These brilliant minds are behind what will soon become a entirely new Minority Report level of technology that will interact with you naturally and intuitively to accomplish everyday consumer tasks. My part to this puzzle is only a very small part to the much larger picture that is coming together very quickly with this amazing new technology.

Now down to business. So far we have a three stage process to open up 3D imaging technology to the world.

  • First, 3D Camera technology must be widely available and at a price point worthy of investing in for most consumers. The Kinect accomplishes this step.
  • Second, the technology must be widely available on many programming languages, allowing developers to program code on top of the data it provides. The OpenKinect community is making great strides towards this goal very quickly.
  • And third, code must be written to analyze the data that the Kinect provides and then do something intuitive or cool with it. This step is where I come in and this area of technology is still very widely unexplored and untested.

So what does this mean for me? This means that there is a long way still to go until we can see this technology doing something really intuitive or cool that hasn’t been seen before. I’ve been able to make a lot of headway so far by getting the LabView drivers to work but it’s going to take a lot more work to make it do something really cool.

Next part to the Kinect Trilogy soon. Stay Tuned.