DaVinci Goes Touchless With XBox Kinect

Dec 02, 2010 by in Microsoft Kinect

The launch of Xbox Kinect has caused much excitement in the open source community. In the last few weeks, developers have managed to tap into the hardware with impressive results. We’ve seen applications ranging from gesture-based experiences to 3D imaging.

We’ve taken this exciting opportunity to port our popular DaVinci experience to the Kinect platform. Gestures are used to create objects and control the physics of the environment. Your hands appear in the interface which allows you to literally grab objects out of thin air and move them in the environment. Additional gestures allow you to affect the gravity, magnetism and “planetary attraction”.

To date, many of the experiments in gestural interface development have not taken into account the hands. Unfortunately, the result is an experience that isn’t precise – users have no context of where they are interacting in the virtual space and 1-to-1 manipulation of objects in a scene proves difficult. By using an clenched hand to signify “grabbing” an object and an open hand to signify “releasing” an object, we are able to create experiences with an higher level of precision which can mimic a touch based experience. In fact, we’ve created a Kinect plugin to enable our entire suite of touch-based experiences to work with gestures – more videos to come!

Gesture-based interaction is great when touch isn’t practical. For instance, on a large screen projected display as shown in the video above it is difficult or physically impossible to control the entire area using touch. Using a technology like Kinect, we can create a virtual canvas in mid-air in front of the user. Interactions within this virtual canvas space are projected into the experience as shown in the DaVinci example.

To be honest, we had a blast playing with this experience. It definitely fulfilled all of our Star Wars fantasies of controlling objects with your mind. We’ll be adding more features in the coming weeks including the Darth Vader death grip. Stay tuned!

“Control, control, you must learn control.” – Yoda