Windows 8 Likely to Use 3D Gestures, Hack Suggests

Dennis Faas's picture

Imagine sitting in front of your computer and using hand gestures to control your PC. In the 2002 blockbuster movie "Minority Report," Tom Cruise did just that as he sifted through wads of information using his hands and a 3D computer screen. Fast forward to the 2010, and we are on the brink of using similar technology at home, but it's still officially under wraps.

Hands-Free Video Game Controller Used on Microsoft Windows

Recently, two hackers have found a way to use Microsoft's new Kinect controller-free video game peripheral on a Windows computer rather than an Xbox 360. Whether they did it for glory or cash is open to debate, but Microsoft surely isn't happy.

The new Microsoft Kinect system is designed for the Xbox 360 console. It aims to rival the motion control system of the Nintendo Wii, but doesn't require any controller: instead, a camera tracks the movement of the player's body and interprets the movements into the video game itself.

Last week, a gadget company offered $1,000 to anyone who could produce an open-source driver for the Kinect hardware: in other words, write software that could allow Kinect to interact with a computer.

The company, Adafruit Industries, doubled that offer to show its disdain for Microsoft's threat that it would "work closely with law enforcement and product safety groups to keep Kinect tamper-resistant." (Source:

Windows 7 PC Takes Control of Kinect

One group of hackers, known as NUI, were the first to successfully respond to the challenge. A man using the screen name "AlexP" posted two videos: one showing a Windows 7 PC moving the Kinect receiver by controlling its robotic system, while the other showed the image captured by the Kinect camera displayed on the PC.

AlexP, who previously produced an unofficial driver for the Move controller on the Sony Playstation 3, did not publish the code for the driver and thus was ineligible for the prize. The NUI group has since said it will release the code if it receives $10,000 of public donations to support its work.

With AlexP out of luck, the cash has been claimed by Hector Martin, who published a video showing the Kinect connected to a Linux-based PC. It's not the sort of picture you would expect from a webcam, but rather a very simplified outline of shapes, somewhat reminiscent of that produced by heat-sensitive cameras. Martin has published the code behind this trick online. (Source:

Windows 8 Likely to use Gesture-Based Controls

Microsoft's fear is that people will adapt these drivers to use the Kinect control system on unlicensed games. However, that certainly doesn't seem to be the goal of the hackers so far, who seem more interested in simply finding out how the system works.

The other main concern for Microsoft is that this may pre-empt its own efforts to bring the motion capture control technology to Windows. What appeared to be a leaked progress report earlier this year on the in-development Windows 8 noted that the system may allow gesture-based controls through a camera connected to a PC. (Source:

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