Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Plethora of Kinect Hacks: Part I

Kinect is fast becoming a dream machine for experimental applications, rather than the actual games it was released with (yet). Here is a slew of hacks, and they just keep coming. Microsoft has hit something big here. Its almost like you know that a UI will come for PC, but with OpenKinect and other home-brew engines, the cat is already out of the bag. It would be hard to believe that Microsoft didn't see this coming. Perhaps they will let those brave folks test the waters for them while probably secretly brewing up something of their own. I suspect one or more of these folks just might end up working for MSFT at some point, given their brief history with Project Natal Kinect.

Click Below To View Some Cool Stuff:

Friday, November 19, 2010

Kinect Sees In 3D, Microsoft Sees In Green [Update]


Microsoft has hoped to pick up the motion controlled game craze right where Nintendo left off with the Wii. So far it looks like they have actually made their first craze. After just 10 days from its launch on Nov 4th, Microsoft has reported 1 million Kinects sold. Hmm, Microsoft and craze. Those are 2 words that most people don't quite imagine being in the same sentence. They seem to be taking pages from both Nintendo and Apple Corp here, delivering all the flash of a new iPad with the cutesy UI and branding of Nintendo's Wii. Although there hasn't been gameplay from a single "gamer's game" shown except maybe Child of Eden, the hardware itself seems to deliver on many levels. Its the kind of device that this site was created for. Now that it seems to be a big ticket holiday seller, I think the chances are actually good of getting some good official software from developers.

Note, the poster of that Youtube video obviously isn't a fan of Always Sunny.

Update: Microsoft has now announced that 2.5 million units have been sold in the first 25 days. Thats 100,000 a day, for those keeping count.

Back After Boring Hiatus

About-Interface is back after a not-so-short break. What did we miss? I'll try to patch in some important stories as I go.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Mind Controlled Wheelchair Works With Help of AI, Swiss Engineering

As an assistant in Mill├ín’s laboratory at EPFL in Switzerland, Michele Tavella at the Rolex Learning Center (Hey, I knew some of that money they charge for time pieces had to go somewhere), tests out a wheelchair he is controlling with his thoughts.


“When I want to turn left, I imagine moving my left hand,” says Tavella. “And this is very natural and very quick; I can send a command in about a second.”

Source: EPFL

Video after the break

I Only Have Eyes for Mario

This news comes from Johnny Lee's Procrastineering website. The folks at Waterloo Labs have devised a way to control Super Mario Bros. with only the eyes, which I have to wonder if is any bit as fun to play as it is to watch someone playing.

Google's Liquid Galaxy is "Google Earth on Steroids"

After taking a little time off, I've decided to update just in time for some last week's news, cold off the press!

Liquid Galaxy, called by many: "Google Earth on steroids", does more than just connects the dots, it connects the apps! Take Google Earth, Google Sky, and allegedly 8 quad core computers, and you've got Liquid Galaxy.

Friday, August 20, 2010

uDraw For Wii Gets A Rather Serious Demo From Artist/Demoer David Kassan

I love it when low-tech goes all high society and stuff. The uDraw GameTablet from THQ, which is made for the Nintendo Wii will go on sale [presumably] by the end of the year, and retail for under $70. Artist David Kassan has already proven he can make short work on the iPad Brushes app, and now it looks like THQ nabbed him to demo just how deep a Wii peripheral can be.

Video after the break:

Monday, August 9, 2010

Microsoft Set Out To Show T3 That Kinect's Got Guts

Just don't call it a glorified EyeToy! In an exclusive showing with T3, Microsoft, last week revealed the inner workings of Kinect for the first time.

More images after the jump.

This Is Not Your Father's Virtua Racing

Story and image from Engadget

As it turns out, industrial-strength robot arms are good for more than amusing hijinks and the occasional assembly line -- a team of researchers at Germany's Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics have turned a KUKA KR 500 into the ultimate Formula 1 simulator ride. Outfitting the six-axis, half-ton lifter with a force-feedback steering wheel, pedals, video projector and curved screen, the newly-christened CyberMotion Simulator lets scientists throw a virtual Ferrari F2007 race car into the turns, while the cockpit whips around with up to 2 Gs of equal-and-opposite Newtonian force. There's actually no loftier goal for this particular science project, as the entire point was to create a racing video game that feels just like the real thing -- though to be fair, a second paper tested to see whether projectors or head-mounted displays made for better drivers. (Projectors won.)

Video after the jump

Microsoft's Kinect Patent Applications Revealed, Includes American Sign Language Support

This patent application from Microsoft went public last week, revealing gesture communication that dips into sign language territory. Is Sign Language Hero next?

Update: It seems that the downgrade that the camera has taken through the developmental process may have taken a toll on this idea (without gloves or reflective nodes). With the current resolution of the IR camera as 320x240, half of where it started at 640x480, it seems that the idea was scrapped. 

A Microsoft spokesperson told Kotaku: "Microsoft files lots of patent applications to protect our intellectual property, not all of which are brought to market right away. Kinect that is shipping this holiday will not support sign language."

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Here Comes Yet Another Touch-Free User Device Called Fraunhofer FIT

The German-designed device can translate you and a partner's hand and finger movements in real time. The software makes sort of a skeletal system analysis sort of like a Kinect, but exclusively for the hands. Currently, reflections from wrist watches and even the palms of your hands can sometimes confuse the hardware/software package.

Pretty sweet video after the jump.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Microsoft Kinect Priced, Bundles Announced

When it releases on November 4, Kinect will have a suggested retail price of $149.99 in the US (£129.99 UK/€149.99 in EU), and come bundled with the game Kinect Adventures.

Kinect games will be suggested by MSFT to be retailed at $49.99/£39.99. At least one third-party game will follow that standard. Microsoft has announced that the third party Dance Central, from Harmonix and MTV Games, will retail for the suggested $49.99/£39.99.

There will also be a 4 GB console/Kinect bundle for $299 (£249.99/€299.99), the bundle will include an Xbox 360 console, the Kinect sensor and Kinect Adventures. This is the new $199, 4GB model that has been rumored but not announced, which gives a $50 break to new gamers.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Draw 3D Images With Beyond Input Pen

The nifty collapsible Beyond pen was developed at the MIT media lab, and is used in conjunction with a head-tracking camera to augment the 3D perspective, which in changes the table display imagery, based on your perspective. the pen itself, is trying to mimic vertical input by turning the collapsing action into a partial virtual pen. The pen itself is tracked with 2 IR markers and a sensor.

This does not quite seem nearly as accurate as the Rhonda 3D drawing method, but new input devices are always a good thing, as we can learn from them.

Rhonda 3D drawing tools:

Friday, July 9, 2010

Christie 3D CAVE Owns

Christie, known for expensive, high-end projectors, is 1-upping themselves. This time they are making a 3D CAVE for Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City, using 8 of their UHD 1920x1920 (3.68 megapixels) 3 chip DLP 3D projectors.

"The ICB's CAVE facility is a powerful new tool that is helping us attract the best and brightest minds in the world," remarked Dr. Harel Weinstein. "We are able to explore images at the molecular and cellular level with a clarity and precision that was previously unattainable. Images of tissues and biological objects can be twisted, turned and expanded, viewed layer by layer with the flick of the wrist, allowing for an unmatched level of inspection that engulfs researchers in colors and details."

Sounds good, but I can only imagine this in a more "fun" setting, like a game environment. Oh, I guess that science and medicine is more important, somehow.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Can Finger-Tracking Be Done With Kinect? How About A Standard Webcam? Why, Yes. Yes It Can.

Yes, I have proof that Kinect can do it, but first, lets talk about another tech. Just last month, there was an announcement from MIT researchers Robert Wang and Jovan Popovic of MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, about a tech they had developed which tracks your hands and individual fingers, all with a simple webcam and some cheap Lycra gloves, which have been designed with a colorful pattern that allows the software to decipher their place in 3D space. I always knew that computers saw the world in '80s-vision! I mean, those gloves tell it like it is.

Rest of the story + videos after the jump:

Hero III Gives Users the Sensation of Feel For Objects Viewed In 3D

Here we see Hero III, which is sort of a robotic hand, or reverse-hand, which mimics the feel of actual objects, right down to the texture.

Its kind of cool seeing these technologies being mixed together. One of the reasons that I chose to include (at some point) user-sensory technology such as 3D and surround sound, is that I believe that it is the human interface that has to evolve first. These technologies will end up being added together, like layers. The whole, as they say, will be greater than the sum of their parts.

Source: Switched.com

Checkout the video after the jump.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Windows 8 To Adopt Kinect Support or At Least, Kinect-Like Features

So, it does seem that Kinect on 360 just may be a way in for Microsoft to break through with this technology to break into the PC world.

This news comes from Neowin.net.

Microsoft is also aiming to use sensors in Windows 8 PCs. "Windows 8 can adapt to changes in ambient light, so that the display is always easy to see", states part of the document. The document also hints at Kinect like features. "Windows 8 could detect my presence and log me automatically", hinting at PCs being able to detect their users.

Kinect Technical Specifications [unconfirmed]

These are the Kinect specs given to UK retailers, according to Play.com. [now retracted?]

  • Colour and depth-sensing lenses
  • Voice microphone array
  • Tilt motor for sensor adjustment
Field of View
  • Horizontal field of view: 57 degrees
  • Vertical field of view: 43 degrees 
  • Physical tilt range: ± 27 degrees
  • Depth sensor range: 1.2m - 3.5m

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Harmonix: When Keeping It Fake Goes Real

Just before E3, Harmonix let the cat out of the bag on Rock Band 3. Introducing not just a keyboard interface, but also a Pro mode, which allows for both midi input and instruments designed to replicate the real thing. Now you will be able to plug in a real midi drum kit, a 120 button guitar replica guitar, a real guitar with midi registers (made just for this game), and/or your own midi keyboard. Still waiting to hear if any guitar with a midi pickup will work. If so, I think they just out-hero-ed Guitar Hero by a mile.

Sound like too much? Well, as long as they keep the standard mode intact (they will), to me it only opens up a new avenue for not only actual musicians, but for music learning, as well. Video games have been the bastards of media for far too long, imo. The phrase "learning can be fun" has always been cliche to the point of being cringe-inducing, but really, if you are going to learn something why can't it be during a fun game?

More images after the break.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Kinect Unleashes Casual, Possibly Fun Games This November

Well, this site should probably start with the most radical consumer interface product yet. That would be Microsoft Kinect. By now, most readers of this site probably already knew about the formerly named "Project Natal". Kinect is a sort of mish-mash of depth, video, and audio sensors. When you think about it, its kind of scary that our input devices are being made to mimic our human senses. Then again, at least they were decent enough at Microsoft to leave out the senses of smell and taste.

Microsoft has decided to launch with a very family-friendly slate of casual games, following Nintendo's strategy, or more over, their complete image that Nintendo has taken many years to develop. I can see how this could equal success, but I just hope that they don't limit the possibility of more edgy fare of game software in the future.

Launch date for NA is November 4th, with the rest of the world "jumping in" by the end of the year. Rumored price is to be set at $150, which is currently refuted as being final by Microsoft. I'll post the actual retail price as it is released.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Welcome To About-Interface!

Thank you for visiting About-Interface. This blog has been a long time coming, and I will have to do a bit of catch-up, as E3 happenned not too long ago.

Thanks. Hope you enjoy.