Remember Predator, that classic 80s movie starring Arnold Schwarzenegger and Carl Weathers? The duo led a team of commandos who were fighting a semi-invisible enemy in the jungle. This semi-visible enemy was heralded back then as a cutting edge special effect and won the movie an Academy Awards nomination for Best Visual Effect in 1988. Fast forward 20+ years and now you can duplicate this effect with some programming knowledge and a Microsoft Kinect.
The Predator-like invisibility hack was developed by Takayuki Fukatsu and showcased in a recent Popsci article. Fukatsu developed the hack using OpenFrameworks, an open source C++ toolkit designed for "creative coding" projects such as this. Unfortunately for folks looking to replicate this effect, Fukatsu provides no details on how he was able to achieve this effect, but we can always speculate. The Kinect is adept at distinguishing between a body and the background and Fukatsu presumably leverages this ability in this hack. The hack most likely takes an image of the background and superimposes it on your body in real time. For those that enjoy YouTube videos of exceedingly long lengths, Fukatsu shows off this effect in a seven minute long video which is embedded below. If you do not have seven minutes to spare, you can skip ahead to 1:30 in the video and watch the next minute or so to get the idea behind the hack.
While this invisibility hack is more fun than practical, it showcases some of the creative and exciting things people are doing with the Microsoft Kinect. More than merely a gaming device, folks have used the Kinect as a NES controller, a means to wield an on-screen lightsaber using a stick, a hands-free controller for Windows 7, a web browser, and even a robot! With 2.5 million Kinect devices in the wild, it will be interesting to see what new hacks and innovations are coming up next.