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Xbox 360 to Get Interactive, Kinect-Enabled “NUads” for its Streaming Content

When it comes to the idea of futuristic advertising, movies and books tend to present holograms that stalk their prey, calling them by name, following them around, and trying to actually interact with the target as opposed to simply being seen. "NUads" set to come to Xbox 360 streaming video may be a step in that very direction. While they don't involve holograms and won't follow you around, NUads are interactive -- through Kinect integration -- and will try to get you to wave at them starting this fall if you're watching video on your Xbox through one of the many new Microsoft-partnered sources like ESPN or NBC News.

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Kinect for Windows Gets Face-Tracking Update

Kinect was an ambitious project from the start, so it's good to see that Microsoft is following through by continuing to support the device and doling out more functionality. One of the big steps was the release of Kinect for Windows, which allowed a whole new crowd of would-be developers take a crack at the hardware, and now they'll have a new thing to take a crack at. After an SDK update, Kinect now has facial-tracking capabilities, so it'll be able to tell if you're enjoying playing with it.

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Microsoft Is Working On Gesture Tech That Uses Only A Microphone and Speakers

Sure, Kinect is cool. There's definitely something to be said for waving your hands at a TV and actually accomplishing something. That said, the tech can still be kind of awkward and janky, and on top of that, gesture recognition systems and their cameras tend to be expensive, especially considering the general lack of fine tuning across the board. Microsoft is working on another system that might be able to solve the price problems. SoundWave works much like Kinect, but will work by using your computer's built-in microphone and speakers, and nothing else.

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Man Plays With Dog From Work With Robotic Surrogate

Jordan Correa and his wife had a problem. Because they both worked full-time jobs, they weren't able to spend time at home during the day with their new dog Darwin. Instead of painfully readjusting their lives, Correa did what any man with training in robotics and engineering would do: He built a telepresence robot surrogate that he could control from work to play with his dog. You know, the obvious solution.

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Star Wars “Galactic Dance Off” Coming to a Kinect Near You

There is a  Star Wars-branded thing called "Galactic Dance Off" and it's coming to a Kinect near you, that is, if you can't manage to run away fast enough. Before you get too excited upset excited, this isn't a standalone property. No, it's a mode available in the upcoming Kinect Star Wars, a detail that seems to speak volumes about the game's actual content. But it gets even better.

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Another Good Use for Kinect Star Wars: Taunting Darth Vader (While Being Chris Pratt) [Video]

For A More Civilized Age

So far, there aren't a whole lot of nice things being said about the upcoming Kinect Star Wars from LucasArts. But they do have some snazzy, silly advertising for it. Like this one, featuring Chris Pratt (of NBC's Parks & Recreation) doing what we've all wanted to do with a lightsaber: mock, taunt, and annoy Darth Vader. And now, who wants to see Ron Swanson fight Emperor Palpatine? Show of hands? (via Forever Geek) Previously in Star Wars

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Report: New Xbox to Get Kinect 2, Will Support Blu-ray but Not Used Games

It's about that time in the console generation when rumors start flying around like wild. Many of them make you excited for all the wonderful gaming possibilities the future can hold, others are a little bit more terrifying. Naturally, as "Xbox 720" enthusiasm keeps snowballing, we're going to get a bit of both. For instance, the new Xbox is rumored to be at least 6 times more powerful than the 360, support Blu-ray, and bring a new version of Kinect along with it. The catch? It may not support used games.

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Kinect for Windows Available February 1 for $249

Microsoft has announced that Kinect for Windows will be made available starting less than a month away, on February 1. The hardware and software will release in an array of countries, including the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, and Spain, at a suggested U.S. retail price point of $249. If you're wondering, GameStop is selling a 4 GB Xbox 360 Kinect bundle for only $50 more than the Windows Kinect, at $299.

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Kinect Powered Art Plays With Tape Measures

Despite being a full-grown man, tape measures are still a source of near unending entertainment for me. Perhaps that's what attracted me to "Tape Recorders," a piece of installation art by Rafael Lozano-Hemmer. In this work, viewers are tracked from above by a Kinect sensor, which feeds information to the motors on each tape measure. The longer a viewer stands in front of a tape measure, the higher it goes, until it finally topples over. In addition to this, the system prints out an hourly total of the time spent by viewers in the space. Friends, this is art that watches you back. See the video, after the break.

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Hey Look, It's a Kinect-Enabled Robot Seeing-Eye Dog

Japanese manufacturer NSK has been working on robot dogs for a while now. Why? Why not. The most recent addition to there newest model of the robo-pet is, you guessed it, a Kinect. By having the Kinect mounted on its head, the robo-dog improves on previous versions built in conjunction with the University of Electro-Communications and can recognize (and climb) things like stairs, no small feat for a robot.

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Verizon Partnering With Microsoft, Bringing Live TV to the Xbox 360

It's official, Verizon is teaming up with Microsoft to provide live TV on the Xbox, a first for the console. The rumors were accurate. It appears that the service will work like this: Verizon FIOS TV and Internet subscribers who have Xbox Live will be able to download a Verizon app designed specifically for the Xbox. Yes, it has Kinect functionality. The app will provide users with as-yet-ill-defined "collection" of content in HD right through their Xboxes.

This is a first for the Xbox -- and consoles as a whole -- and represents a step in a new direction for consoles that are trying harder and harder to market themselves as out-and-out media devices and not just expensive, shiny boxes for man-children with disposable incomes who like to get yelled at by unbelievably foul-mouthed 10-year-olds while playing Modern Warfare. Not that that depiction is right, but it does exist to some extent. Having TV content will make the Xbox more like a DVR (or VCR for you neanderthals) and hopefully open up its market. Of course, this all leads to one big, looming question. Why?

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Asimo Uses Kinect to Steal Your Dope Dance Moves

Asimo, everyone's favorite humanoid robot from Honda, has learned a few new tricks that researchers hope will make interacting with robots a little bit easier. The first is a new system that adds gesticulations to pre-programmed speech on the fly. Engineers working with Asimo say that since the robot lacks a mouth, the only way Asimo can interact with people is through speech and body movements. Interestingly, the user can define how expressive the robot should be while speaking, so Asimo can move with the grace and tenacity of a master orator or with more subdued motions. Second, and perhaps more significantly, Asimo can now mimic the motions of a human through a Kinect motion controller. This isn't mere copying, though; the movements are tightly integrated to Asimo's existing systems, allowing the robot to adjust his feet to keep him upright while following human movement. For professional breakdancers concerned about ceding dancing to the robots: Don't worry, engineers say that this input method will allow humans to easily teach movements into Asimo, without tediously programming each movement to each joint. Read on below for a video of the plucky robot in action.

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Kinect Powered Breakout Game Uses Entire Building as a Screen

Since its release, the Kinect has been repurposed and used for all kinds of things, many of them outside of the world of gaming. Now, a group called We Come In Peace has found yet another use for the Kinect: Using it to create a motion controlled game of Breakout that is projected on the side of an entire building. While it's already impressive enough to be playing a game on the side of a building, there's also some pretty sophisticated mapping going on. The "walls" the ball bounces off aren't arbitrarily decided. If you look closely, you'll see they are physical features on the building's surface. Ball-and-brick games have never been this cool.

(via I Programmer)

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Smart Mirror Might Be the Future of Bathroom Internet Use

A lot of people use their smart phones in the bathroom. In fact, the numbers suggest there is a 40% chance that you, dear reader, have personal experience with that. Researchers at New York Times Research & Development Lab are okay with that and actually seek to embrace it, bringing connectivity to the bathroom without increasing the risk that you'll drop your smart phone in the toilet. Their "magic mirror" combines a mirror TV and Microsoft Kinect in order to turn one of the walls of your bathroom into a screen you can use to brush your teeth and check your Facebook. The Kinect picks up where you are, allowing the TV to display things in creative ways. For example, it can project a tie so that it looks like your wearing it from your point of view, wherever you happen to be standing.

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Kinect Hack Features Literal Monkey-See-Monkey-Do Functionality

Hack a Kinect and then use it to read your movements and make a monkey copy them: It's an idea so simple and cool that you're kicking yourself for not having come up with it. Or you did come up with it and you're kicking yourself for not doing it. Either way, Jan Sieber and Ralph Kistler did do it and it's both an awesome toy and an awesome play on words.

The way it works is that the Kinect reads and records the user's body movements and the software translates them into commands that are sent to the poor monkey's nightmarish skeletal implant made of metal, servos, and wires. Even through all that, the monkey seems to have been able to keep that little smirk on his face and will gladly do jumping jacks with you.

Video after the jump shows the monkey in action, explains the process of creation and personifies the little guy so much that the scene in which his innards are removed and replaced is genuinely disturbing. Enjoy!

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Microsoft’s E3 2011 Keynote Recap

The yearly gaming convention that steals away many a gamer's sleep has begun. Wake the fanboys, stoke the fires: E3 is upon us, and nary a gaming soul will be spared. E3 kicked off with Microsoft's keynote this year. They announced a few doozies; Halo 4 and Gears of War 3 made an appearance. They announced a few things that will most likely be duds with the core Xbox gaming audience; A Disneyland Kinect game (they didn't even get the better Disney) and a Sesame Street game developed by none other than gaming legend Tim Schafer, which still feels like a waste of Tim Schafer's talents (he could be using them on Psychonauts 2!). A bunch of Kinect integration was discussed -- some good, some forgettable -- as well as the addition of YouTube, Bing, and an Xbox Live television streaming service. They also announced one big surprise: Minecraft on the Xbox 360.

Travel past the break for the full recap. That is, if you're prepared to begin this year's descent into E3 madness.

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Kinect Hacked for Helpful Robot Shopping Cart

In what could be even more useful than the previously reported sign-language translator Kinect hack, Luis Carlos Inácio de Matos has unveiled the wi-GO robotic shopping cart. Using the visual sensing powers of the Kinect, a laptop, and a motorized platform, the wi-GO follows its owner like a faithful dog. Users can then use the built-in shopping basket to carry their items as they go through the store. De Matos intends the wi-GO to help people who, because of disability or any other reason, might have difficulty navigating a store with a shopping cart or carrying their purchases. There have been some very fun and clever Kinect hacks already, but it's great to see more tinkerers put their minds toward using these devices to improve quality of life. (via Engadget)

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Hacked Kinect Understands Sign Language

French researchers have done what many thought impossible: created a truly useful hack for the Kinect. Using the body tracking capabilities of the Kinect, coupled with some clever coding, they have developed software to interpret sign language. Interestingly, this fulfills the original patent claim of the Kinect, and promises made at its introduction by Microsoft. Key to the team's work was using the Fast Artificial Neural Network, or FANN, to allow the computer to understand users' signs. From the  YouTube comments made by the team:
For simples moves , like a punch or a kick, it easy to recognize : high vélocity of the hand or the foot. But for more complex moves (like the ones in this video), the problem is mathematicaly harder... Neural network is a way to bypass the problem[.] It builds a mathematical model of the moves using move samples.
The system can only recognize two words at the moment -- "hello" and "sorry" -- but the team says that with all the software in place adding more words is a relatively easy task. While the XBox has supported text-based inputs for some time, sign language recognition could provide a fast and natural way for signers to communicate. It could also be used as a valuable teaching tool for those unfamiliar with the language. Read on after the break to get a look at the Kinect hack in action.

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Augmented Reality Tetris Using Kinect and a Wiimote [Video]

Trinity College student Keyosaurus (which is his YouTube moniker) mashed up Kinect body controls, a Wiimote and a bit of head tracking to control an augmented reality version of portal-less puzzling classic Tetris. The Kinect motions control most of the game, from zooming the camera to moving the tetraminoes, while the Wiimote rotates the pieces. For some reason, the video showing the hack in action doesn't play any of the instantly-recognizable Tetris themes, but blasts our ears with elevator music instead.

(PC World via Engadget)

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Guy Builds Live Feed of Minecraft Play Session on Screen in Minecraft, Using Kinect [Video]

From the fella who brought us self-portrait megasculptures in Minecraft using Microsoft's Kinect, comes a live feed of your Minecraft play session being shown on a screen made out of constantly updating blocks within a Minecraft play session. His Kinect records his monitor while playing Minecraft, then the hack displays the data on a constantly updating screen within the Minecraft play session. The screen is estimated to be about 50 blocks high and 80 to 100 blocks long, acting as pixels to display the feed, and a custom texture pack was added to aid in color matching. The hack also allows the screen to stop streaming, which creates a screenshot embedded in the blocky, in-game screen. Don't worry, the required Inception joke is included in the video.

(via The Escapist)

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