Jan 262011
Authors: Ryan Gibbons and Glen Pfeiffer

The Nintendo Wii revolutionized the console game experience when it came out in 2006. For the first time, gamers could use physical motion to do everything from swing a virtual gold club to Dance With The Stars (yes, we both have vague, vague memories of a long night dancing at the club … er, basement).

Sure, motion is cool and all, but how has the Wii been improved in the four plus years it’s been around? Precious little. It’s old tech. Kaput. We’re kickin’ it off the island, declaring it the weakest link, kickin’ it out of our cab.
The Xbox Kinect was released by Microsoft less than four months ago, and Nintendo must be kicking themselves for not eliminating the magic little wand stick from the gaming experience first.

The device uses a combination of three cameras to constantly track your body’s position in space, so rather than the console knowing where just your hands are, as it currently is with both the Wii and Playstation Move, your Xbox knows where almost every body part is… almost. This is great for things like sports games, dancing games and even yoga games (but not mind games –– it won’t act like your girlfriend).

With a catalog of just 17 titles, the pickings are a little slim. Never fear though –– the hacking community is here. We haven’t seen them this busy since the iPhone didn’t allow third party apps!

With a USB plug standard, the Kinect is easily connected to any computer and hacked in just a short time –– to do the evil bidding of your choice. In fact, Microsoft claims that no real hacking is done –– they say they didn’t code any security into the device, it simply takes someone writing new code for the hardware. The new trend has been so popular that the website kinecthacks.net, which compiles and posts the latest and greatest hacks, has reached over a million hits in just two short months. With over 200 posts, there’s obviously been a few noteworthy hacks –– here’s some of our favorites.

A company named Evoluce has been doing a lot of work with the Kinect sensor and has now integrated it into the Windows 7 experience, so rather than using your mouse to navigate the screen you can use your body (think Minority Report).

ThriXXX, a very adult company has come up with a very adult game in which you can “interact” with less than fully clothed animated individuals. That’s right, fully interactive Kinect porn! Sure it won’t be coming to an Xbox near you anytime soon, but there has been whispers of Microsoft bringing the Kinect to the PC platform as well.

Up until now, we never considered what we’ll have to be blocking from our kids first computers …  maybe our grandkids will get to see porn stars crawl out of their screen like the girl in “The Ring.”

One of our absolute favorite hacks, apart from the porn, of course, is the ability to conduct surgery via the Kinect. Nicolas Padoy from Johns Hopkins University has “demonstrated fine tele-manipulation of a surgical tool using depth-information from a kinect.”

It appears he did so in a mock operating room under surgical conditions … with a piece of pie. There’s no word yet on whether the pie’s condition has been updated from critical.

Finally, an interesting hack was posted around Christmastime that is now thematically out-of-date but still full of possibilities.

The video depicts a girl controlling the brightness of a string of Christmas lights by moving her arms. ‘Conducting’ lights could be fun … but we don’t see why it would stop at light. How about conducting sound with it? Or controlling the speed of your car? It would be an easy feat once we all have Heads-Up-Displays on our windshields that can be controlled with our eyeballs.

Columnists Glen Gibbons and Ryan Pfeiffer… er, Glen Pfibbons and Ryan Geiffer… shoot, Ren… damn. We just want questions and comments. Send ‘em to verve@collegian.com.

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