Geek Out

Behind The Scenes: Microsoft Kinect Hacking Challenge in Sydney

About 100 developers from around Australia converged on Sydney last weekend. Their challenge: Create fun new ways to exploit the Xbox’s gesture controller – or build a new Windows Phone 7 Mango app from scratch. As you’d expect, I went along for the ride…

I’m seated at the back of a UTS classroom still buzzing after a day’s busy coding activity. For the past five hours, around 40 devs have been racing to create new gesture-controlled Kinect projects from the ground up. The beta Kinect SDK was only released two weeks ago, so for many, the 1.5-hour morning workshop was the first time they’ve played with it. At stake for the winner: a Kinect sensor, an AR Drone Quadricopter, and of course, bragging rights.

There’s a sense of camaraderie and encouragement as projects are presented. “The networking is half the reason I come,” one smiling dev tells me. “A bunch of us are still hung over from last night,” quips another. We see a human Tetris game, a jukebox concept, store greeter software, minority report-style server video switching, and a western gun-slinging game.

After a quick deliberation, the judges give the nod to resident gun slinger, Xerxes Battiwalla, citing his game’s mathematic nous and graphics.

Down the hall, the Windows Phone coding challenge also comes to a close. Given the same amount of time, here devs will be judged on completion and best use of new features in the Windows Phone 7 Mango SDK released last week.

Entries included a public toilet finder (using government data), an app that finds bars with awesome Mojitos, and an app that lets you assign gestures to dial contacts.

The eventual winner: A parking assistant app that lets you mark your location on a map, take a photo, and track how long you’ve been parked. The tough part: splitting the Kinect and Quadricopter between the app’s two coders: Ryan Burnham and Changhong Fu.

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DDD is bigger in the UK, but came to Oz last year in Melbourne (this year the Melbourne event was at Swinburne University). It’s a conference for devs, by devs, and includes keynotes, workshops and access to thought leaders.

For instance, Saturday’s track at the Sydney event had Microsoft researchers walking attendees through Avatar Kinect, and 3D object recognition/printing.

If you think you’d like to get involved, head over to the DDD website. Thanks to Lewis and the crew for helping with the pics and having me along. I’ll see you next year.

For more coverage of the Australian dev scene from Gizmodo, check out our Developers Cubed interview series.


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