Gesture Recognition - The New Kid On The Block
In November 2010, Microsoft released their highly-anticipated technology called the Kinect. The Kinect is an add-on feature for the Xbox console system. It allows for interaction without the use of any kind of controller. Luxurious Animals secured a Kinect before the official release, we can assure you it's pretty cool to use your body as the controller.

In fact, we are not strangers to this innovative style of interaction. In October 2010, we debuted a project in collaboration with Esquire Magazine and Lufthansa Airlines that we call “Dream of Flight.” This one-of-a kind physical installation allows users to virtually fly around the world using only the motion of their body. The idea was pitched to Esquire and Lufthansa in June 2010 for exhibition at the Esquire Ultimate Bachelor Pad, a beautiful Beverly Hills mansion. Using our metrics, from the amount of time guests spent playing, we can tell it was a success.

With the recent release of the Kinect, we are often asked if the Kinect was used in Dream of Flight or if the projects are related. They are definitely rooted in similar technology, however we selected the Panasonic camera for reasons that are explained below.

Both cameras are Time-of-Flight cameras, able to sense both color and depth of every pixel unlike traditional cameras that only sense color. The concept of this technology has been around for quite some time, but only in the last ten years have processors and sensors been advanced enough to make it feasible.

In early 2010, while researching technology for the Esquire project, Microsoft's Kinect originally called “Project Natal” was a prominent result in our searches. For Esquire, we needed a non-proprietary solution that would be ready in time for a September installation and months of testing prior to that. Luckily, Panasonic agreed to give us one of their units, despite the fact that the camera was unreleased in North America. We had a feeling that once the Kinect was released, offering a Time-of-Flight camera at an affordable price, exciting things would happen; and to our delight our predictions have come true!

Amateur programmers, engineers, and DIY enthusiasts alike commandeered the Kinect for their own use merely days after its release. Their computers could talk to the Kinect and bring in all the data it interpreted. As designers of interactive applications, we at Luxurious Animals are always interested in the progression of the field, especially new methods of interaction. As clever as we like to think we are, our creativity cannot compare to the wealth of bright and creative individuals all over the world. Individuals who can now bring their ideas to life with a little bit of elbow grease and know-how.

Microsoft has openly condemned those who “hack” the Kinect for personal purposes. Adafruit Industries, however, notoriously offered a $3,000 reward to the first person to develop a driver to communicate with the Kinect. We believe offering technology to the masses will prove to be much more profitable to the human race than it can ever be to any company's wallet. Already in the few short months since its release, the Kinect has produced a wealth of unique ideas. For example, digital hand puppets that mimic the user's arm movements, true first person virtual reality experiences as an avatar, and even interactive projection mapping have come about since the release. As home-brew tools and utilities mesh with the Kinect, creation will be become even easier. This is just the beginning, and Luxurious Animals looks forward to witnessing, and participating in, all the wonderful invention to come.
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