Kinect hack brings a galaxy far, far away a little closer to home

The official Star Wars Kinect game may not be set for release until Christmas next year, but that hasn't stopped one enterprising user from bringing a touch of the Force to Microsoft's motion controller.

Engadget reports that ''Yankeyan'' took one wooden stick, the OpenKinect drivers and OpenCV computer vision library and created the closest thing many of us will get to wielding a weapon from ''a more civilised age''. Yankeyan's program tracks the stick in realtime and overlays a lightsaber image onto it.

Meantime, another user, dubbed ''Ben X Tan'' has created a ''human MIDI controller'' using the Kinect. The controller converts hand-waving to MIDI notes and draws on the Australian's previous Pmidic MIDI controller, which used light sources to control input.

The latest Kinect tricks mark an ongoing effort by the open-source community to find alternative uses for the motion controller. In the fortnight since Kinect launched in the US, users have demonstrated uses including as a ''handsfree multitouch'' input device for a PC and as a 3D webcam able to create a live 3D "model" of a room and everything in it. Kinect has also been demoed as a controller for Windows 7 and as a motion capture device.

Apparently spurred by the range of innovative uses users were finding for their device, Microsoft last week clarified its position on Kinect ''hacking'', saying Kinect's USB interface was left open ''by design'' and the company was ''inspired'' by the community's efforts.

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