Kinect hacked to make Google prank a reality

Posted by Emma Woollacott

On Friday, Google announced Google Motion - a new feature allowing Gmail users to use Gmail through hand gestures and body movements.

It received great acclaim: "No longer will people be required to bend to the will of technology. Instead, technology will now bend to our will," commented Lorraine Klayman, an environmental movement specialist at Nevada Polytechnic College.

Unfortunately, just like the job ad for psychic autocompleters, it was only an April Fool's joke. But, undaunted, the guys at the University of California's Institute for Creative Technologies say they've been able to make it real.

"Here at MxR Lab we developed the Flexible Action and Articulated Skeleton Toolkit, which allows you to control Windows applications and games with body motion. So, naturally, we were pretty excited this morning when Google announced Gmail Motion, which allows you to control Gmail using gesture," says postdoctoral researcher Evan Suma.

"However, no offence to the geniuses at Google, but we weren't able to get their application running on our computers for whatever reason - apparently it's still pretty buggy. So we came up with our own middleware solution, and today we're annnouncing the Software Library Optimizing Obligatory Waving."

Suma says that, for simplicity, his team has used the same commands as Google Motion. Sending an email, for example, involves miming licking a stamp and slapping it one one's thigh.

We're not sure how many people, if any, actually fell for Google's prank. But if anybody did, they now get the last laugh.

There's a demo of SLOOW, here, and the FAAST toolkit is available here.