Vangos Pterneas – Installing Kinect to your PC

When the developers learned of the Kinect’s potential outside Xbox gaming, the era of revolutionary NUI technology officially started. Many had concepts, dreams and prototypes that were aching to come out, to be realized. But one problem stopped Kinect hackers dead on their tracks. The problem - how can we connect our Kinect to our PCs? With personal computers and notebooks being the primary source of all processing and programs for developers? The first step is indeed to hook the Kinect to any PCs.

Lucky for us, a guide was made. With detailed instructions accompanied by supporting software, people started hacking and development starting rising. Enter Vangos Pterneas a 23-year old freelance software developer. Aside from Kinect programming, Vangos invests his time in tinkering with .NET Framework and HTML5. He is the author of of the “Kinect on your PC” guide which he posted on “The Code Project’s” website. He is one of the pioneer Kinect hackers.

We managed to have a chat with the young genius about his thoughts regarding the Kinect and we caught a glimpse behind the mind of a Kinect hacker:

When did you start to learn about the potential of the Kinect?

Vangos: Well, my BSc thesis is about Natural User Interfaces and accessibility software. Furthermore, my awarded project, Touring Machine (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M7VM200Escw), uses augmented reality to interact with the users. Having all that in mind, I realized that Kinect interaction is suitable for a number of different applications, no matter if they are games or not. Microsoft has done an incredibly good job with the sensor and OpenNI provided me with the tools I needed. So, I enhanced my existing applications with Kinect features and achieved richer user experience.

You were one of the first contributors to Kinect hacks specifically installing the Kinect to your PC. How were you able to provide the community with that guide?

Vangos: When the first release of OpenNI shipped out, many people (including me) had trouble installing and configuring it properly. I spent many hours googling and experimenting with the drivers until I found the exact process that worked on all of my machines. The software was good, but a specific process was necessary in order to make it function correctly. I installed and uninstalled it many times and on different PCs until I standardized that process. Then, my friend and partner George Karakatsiotis (http://venus.cs.aueb.gr/~erevodifwntas) suggested me to write and publish a guide in order to help other people.

What is the best Kinect hack you’ve seen so far?

Vangos: I really like the Kinect Turntable Scanner by A. J. Jeromin (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V7LthXRoESw), which is based on Nicolas Burrus work and achieves great 3D object reconstruction. Impressive.

What do you think of the future of Kinect?

Vangos: Kinect is the future of human – computer interaction. It can totally change the way we use everyday applications and the way we communicate with each other. Considering gaming, I think that game industries do not yet have solid ideas on how to create really engaging Kinect games. On the other side, the developers’ community produces really cool staff. Hope the upcoming Windows 8 will integrate well with this amazing sensor!

Do you have any new Kinect hacks on the works?

Vangos: Sure! During my BSc thesis research, I developed a prototype which I am planning to publish soon. Moreover, I am going to update my popular Nui.Vision library (http://www.codeproject.com/Articles/169161/Kinect-and-WPF-Complete-body-tracking) and enhance it with new capabilities by the end of September.

With more people like Vangos populating the Kinect community, it is without a doubt that the developments of the world concerning this technology will be better!