Kinect hackers develop augmented reality keyboard

It’s been less than a month since a $3,000 bounty for developing the first open source Kinect driver was won and hackers have now pushed the technology into the realm of augmented reality.

The development is called “Keyboard Anywhere”, which is the latest version of the OpenKinect Piano project. It uses the Kinect camera to capture the movements of people, but adds a new layer in the form of a virtual keyboard on the desktop and then later on the floor.

The augmented reality keyboard was coded in the Python programming language and was made possible by libfreenect, a software driver package that allows the Kinect to work on non-Xbox 360 machines, such as a PC or Mac.

The developers recreated an iconic scene from the 1988 film Big, where Tom Hanks and Robert Loggia play a giant keyboard on the floor. They advertise it as working at 30 frames per second with no lag, with there is a slight lag in response times from when the user steps on the virtual key and the sound relating to that key plays.

Developers in the Kinect hacking community have been rapid over the past month, ranging from getting it to work with Windows 7 to 3D video capture and now augmented reality. Initially Microsoft responded negatively to the developments, threatening legal action, but it since said it was “inspired” by the gaming community’s efforts to expand the Kinect’s use.