On June 1, 2009, Microsoft announced the Kinect, and with it, they promised the birth of a new generation of motion-controlled video games. Instead, we got a virtual puppy petting machine and awkward wedding-dance simulator. But some particularly handy people took a look at the Kinect and saw the true potential. Here's what they gave us ...
Holograms are a pretty big staple of science fiction universes. They replaced email in Star Wars, chess in Star Trek, television in The Jetsons and even revived the Jaws series in Back to the Future Part II.
Along with jetpacks, hoverboards and blow-job robots, holograms are one of those future cockteases that were promised to us long ago, but that nobody ever shows any sign of delivering. But now, using just a Kinect and an ordinary TV, this hacker has made himself a full-fledged helicopter hologram at home. The programmer himself admits that the hack isn't technically impressive, but it's the simplicity and novelty that are really jaw-dropping here: The Kinect uses its body tracking software to keep tabs on the user's head in three-dimensional space, telling the software which angle you're viewing the image from. The image adjusts on the fly, creating a cheap and dirty "hologram" effect using the same simple 2-D displays we all already own. It's what would happen if MacGyver was way into video games instead of helping people or saving the world or any of that stupid crap.
If it brings us one step closer to holo-porn, it automatically counts as altruism.
So What Does This Mean for Gaming?
It's still technically a 2-D display, so it might not mean holographic games quite yet (at least not beyond the puzzle variety, though it would make a sweet-ass Jenga simulator). But it could mean the end of all camera issues. No more bullshit auto-centering right as you're about to make a key jump, no more getting stuck in corners, no more awkward, clumsy controls. It looks where you look and shows you what you would see from that angle. Do you know what that means, console gamers? We get an entire analog stick back! We could use it for anything: Aiming independent of the camera, movement control of AI partners or just swinging a virtual arm around like a total spaz!
Or just spending the whole day flipping out your cats.
And yeah, we know, the hack isn't exactly beaming images out into the center of your living room or anything, so maybe it's cheating to call it a hologram. But think about it: You know you're going to use this shit to upskirt that busty video game heroine at some point, and a 2-D image is a hell of a lot easier to hide than a translucent ghost ass hovering in the middle of your living room.
4Hunter Killer from The Terminator
The Terminator franchise focuses on the eponymous death-delivering machines that plague humanity. But the giant Austrian robots were not the only variety: There were spiders, tanks, boats and even Hunter Killer drones, which were tiny, lethal unmanned scout aircraft. Hey, they might be among the less impressive deadly robots, but that's better than no deadly robots at all, right?
"When you can snatch the trachea from my throat, your training will be complete."
In this clip, some UC Berkeley professors basically glued a Kinect to a quadrotor, then programmed the Kinect to fly the copter while avoiding obstacles. What's the difference between this and those army UAVs? There's no human control here. The whole thing is self-contained. There's an onboard computer that does the software heavy lifting and even backup sensors in case the Kinect malfunctions. Although the video doesn't specifically mention it, the next step is obviously duct-taping a Glock to the thing and seeing how well it pops off headshots.
Dear God, don't taunt it!
So What Does This Mean for Gaming?
If the future is Augmented Reality Gaming -- the practice of overlaying video games on the real world -- then cheap, autonomous gaming drones are going to be invaluable. They could keep score for you, track your progress through the game/world or even stand in for virtual enemies. And when they inevitably become self-aware and the game becomes horribly real, hey, at least you'll die doing what you loved: being shot by robots.
Honestly, we all have it coming.