Despite Microsoft’s claim that they have built a number of safeguards into the design of Kinect to prevent tampering with its design, open source drivers for Windows apparently have been developed and are in the process of being tweaked for release.
Videos circulating on the Internet show the just-released Kinect working with a Windows-based PC. The news about the driver for Kinect as usable with Windows is perhaps driven by a $2,000 bounty offered by electronics distributor, Adafruit Industries. Adafruit is offering $2,000 to the first documented open source USB driver that is written to use Kinect.
Of course, Microsoft reportedly isn’t happy about the use of Kinect by anything other than an Xbox 360. The Kinect add-on could be a boon to robotics enthusiasts and hackers looking for a 3D camera to be used with their projects.
One interesting thing of note has come out of these early hackings of Kinect, and that is that 640x480 depth data (when hooked up to a PC) is far more robust than the 320x240 depth field that Microsoft lists in the product specifications. It is unknown exactly what this might mean down the road, but in the short term it does prove that the device offers more power than Microsoft is currently using. It is also unknown if Microsoft plans to tap into this higher field depth later on as the product evolves.
It is anyone’s guess as to when these drivers will be released. It is currently suspected that the driver will undergo some additional tweaking and functionality enhancements before it is released to the public.