Writing on the community-powered website developerFusion recently, coder and wordsmith Chris Alexander has made some interesting comments on first steps for developers looking to the Microsoft Kinect for Xbox360 environment. The "controller-free gaming and entertainment experience" from Microsoft was launched worldwide in November 2010 and developer interest has arguably yet to surge or peak to any great degree.
Writing at the end of November 2010, Alexander points out that this essentially closed and proprietary environment has drawn considerable interest from the hacker community. "Within just hours of the Kinect launch, some resourceful developers had got together an open-source driver for Kinect and were busy building in support for its various faculties. Now it's a fairly simple process for anybody interested and with a bit of programming knowledge to get going with building on top of Kinect," he said.
Originally codenamed "Project Natal" Microsoft has hinted from the start that the web-cam style add peripheral may later be supported by PCs from Windows 8 onwards when it comes. Alexander's original post goes on to provide a guide to setting up Kinect to work with your PC and starting off the process of a little image analysis to start with — which does of course invalidate your device guarantee should you wish to try it.
Alexander points out that while there are now .NET/Windows drivers for Kinect available (supporting RGB camera, depth camera, accelerometer feedback, motor driving, and LED setting) these are not open source. "However there are some open-source drivers available through the OpenKinect project on Github. At the time of writing these support OS X and Linux, however they are moving at an extremely fast pace, so you may find this has changed," he said.
To run Alexander's demo in a carbon copy duplicate environment, you will need to emulate his standard installation of Ubuntu 10.04 Lucid Lynx LTS without any major modifications — and get hold of a Kinect unit, too, of course.