Kinect hack using libfreenect, openCV creates awesome shadow puppet

As most of you who aren’t living under a rock know, Microsoft’s Gesture Recognition based XBox extension called Kinect is a huge hit. And I’m not just talking for the Xbox owners or gamers.

This device has been in awe amongst a lot of geeks as well. This may well be because of open source hardware vendor Adafruit putting up a bounty of $2,000 for building open source drivers for Kinect. Or maybe the fact that it was actually hacked just as soon as this bounty was announced.

In any case, take a look at Kinect’s official promo video and you can’t deny the fact that this gadget has some serious potential.

For instance, as soon as libfreenect was released, Emily Gobeille and Theo Watson , went on the create a shadow-puppet like you’ve never seen before.

Using libfreenect, openFrameworks , openCV and Kinect, this duo has created a spectacular version of the age-old shadow puppet that will knock your socks off you.

Enough said. Take a look at the video.

Interactive Puppet Prototype with Xbox Kinect from Theo Watson on Vimeo.

Gadgets | 1 Comment

Smartphone comparison

iPhone 3GS ? Motorola Droid ? Palm Pre ? HTC Touch ?

For those of you who are quite unable to make your mind on which Smartphone to go for, here’s a detailed chart listing the features and cost for the top Smartphones currently in the market.

Thanks to Bill Shrink for producing this chart

It is interesting to see that three out of these four smartphones are based on Open Source technologies.

However, the iPhone has about 100K, that’s right… a Hundred thousand applications (on last count) available for download at the app store. This phenomenon is again a testimony to the superlative marketing skills by Apple. Although the number of developers for the iPhone must surely be far less compared to all the open source developers out there, the Applications for the iPhone beat those for the open source Android platform in an almost 10:1 ratio.

What I would like to see is, with Giants like Google and Nokia backing open source mobile platforms like Android and Maemo respectively, will the iPhone be able to sustain it’s top spot in the Smartphone market ?

Gadgets | 3 Comments

Android 2.0 : The Eclair Release

With Verizon’s Droid all slated for a release next month, it will be releases with the latest Android Release, “Eclair“.

Going with their tradition of  naming their major Release after pastries, Android 2.0 seems to be feature filled.

Some of the interesting features I feel are as follows :

  • Microsoft Exchange support
  • Digital Zoom and In-build Flash support in the Camera
  • Support for HTML5 in the browser
  • Bluetooth 2.1
  • Several new developer APIs.

You read more about the 2.0 SDK and how to sync it with your current SDK here.

A complete  list of features is also present here.

Industry News | 2 Comments

What motivates Open source contribution ?

This post is in response to a notion I encountered more than once, by different people (blogs) at difference times. The argument here is : as more and more people start losing their jobs due to the Financial turmoil thats taking place in the world today, the number of open source contributions will increase since people will have more FREE time on their hands to waste.

This argument was made by one Mr.Andrew Keen who thinks the current economy is about to “Give Open Source a good thumping

My first reaction when I read this article was  : 1) this guy obviously hates open source software, and 2) This guy’s an idiot.

If you take a look at the comments section on his post, you will realise I am not the only one who thinks so.

But the best response is given by Steven J. Vaughan-Nicholas of ComputerWorld.

Steven corrects Andrew’s assumption that only people with free time and who do not care about money are contibuting to open source. The real-world stats about the actual code contributors to the Linux Kernel , Linux Foundation’s recently released report that it would have cost more than $10 Billion dollars to develop an Open source distribution like Fedora and, Jerrry Allison’s leaving Novell only to join Google, all make up a great counter-argument to Andrew’s obviously less thought-out post.

I agree to all these claims, including ones made by commentors on Andrew’s post about how the US Army and other government organizations also sponsor open source development. Open source is no longer a hobby project of some group of geeky students.

Open Source is serious business. A lot, and I mean a LOT of businesses , educational institutions and research work are completely dependent on open source software and it’s development. Sun’s acquisition of MySQL for a whooping $1 billion , the profit figures of companies like Canonical, Red Hat, SugarCRM , Alfresco, etc. are clear indications that open source can be an immensely profitable venture.

However, the true beauty of the open source software “movement” is that an unpaid, enthusiast student can be just as much a contributor to a project as a highly paid engineer at a multi-national company.

The “non-paid” contributors to open source software (and not just the Linux kernel , as pointed out by Steven), must be far more than paid contributors. I base this not on some hard statistical date but by a simple glance at free open source hosted repositories like SF, Google Code, Freshmeat, Savannah, etc.

Although a monetory payment is a huge motivation for contributing to open source software, I hope that “writing great software” keeps remaining the major impetus for it.

Open Source | 8 Comments

Second Ubuntu Developer Week announced

The Ubuntu Developer Week is designed to give you an overview of what
’s going on in the Ubuntu Developer world. Speak to the developers, learn, ask questions and finally realise “It’s true, I *can* make a difference by helping out here.”

read more | digg story

Event | No Comments

eLearning Open Source

OpenVarsity is an initiative for eLearning, or learning with online tutorials, Open Source and Free Software technologies.

As soon as I saw the first prototype of it’s course I was convinced that this would be a great way for newbie enthusiasts to get their hands dirty.

I have already emailed Naveen from OpenVarsity, pledging my full support and being available for any screenshots, tutorials, etc.

I myself wanted to do something on similar lines for OSD, wherethe goal would be to atleast get users started on various topics.

I am currently also experimenting to record Screencasts, so that I can have video’s similar (but instead of comments I will have to do Voice-overs) to Naveen’s. I have installed Istanbul and xVidcap for recording the screencasts, but it seems xvidcap is the best software to have for this.

I have installed Moodle on this site and have am learning to design courses. I wonder if I could upload and integrate videos easily into moodle.

I would love to hear if anyone has any suggestions on what tutorials they would like to see in Basic Linux usage .

Open Source | No Comments

Nokia buys Symbian

On 24th June, Nokia made it’s plans clear to buy the remaining 40% in the leader in mobile OS, Symbian.

Since, Nokia handsets have been using Symbian’s S60 (and other previous versions) OS for quite some time now, this seems like a brilliant strategic and a logical move from Nokia.

But the best part is that Nokia plans to go ahead and open the souce for the Symbian OS and “hand it over” to the Symbian Foundation, a non-profit initiative of industry leaders like Texas Instruments, Vodafone, Samsung, LG, etc.

Kudos Nokia !!! Great work !

I think this was an exemplary behaviour from Nokia and one that other industry leaders who are out there on a buying spree, can  learn a lesson from.

An interesting interview with Dr. Jaaksi, Nokia’s director of open source, reveals that this move will in no way hamper Nokia’s indulgence in it’s Linux strategies. Nokia already has four MIDs with Linux on it, viz., the 770, N800, N810 and the new Wimax enabled N810. All these are based on Maemo, an open platform based in Linux, for MIDs which competes with Android and LiMo.

Our goal is to have the same UI on both Linux and Symbian, and the Qt platform lets us move forward toward that, with its cross platform technolgy” says Dr. Jaaksi.

And this is very much possible since Nokia has also earlier acuired  Trolltech, which builds cross-platform UI’s based on the Qt platform. Dr.Jaaksi also goes on to reveal that Nokia has no intentions of having Linux on any of it’s smartphones. Maan !!! Granted that they have ben very successful with their current OSes on the smartphones, but by saying this , Dr.Jaaksi has confirmed my fear that there will NOT be a Linux OS on an Nokia handset, atleast in the near future.

All said and done, other executives within Nokia feel that open sourcing Symbian is not going to be a one day process. In fact, some claim that it will be not before 2010 that we will actually start seeing handsets with the open-sourced Symbian powering them.

I think all this had been great news for the open source community. I think Nokia, like Sun has realised that going the open source way is the best way not only for earning major brownie points with its geek customer-base, but also because they will end with some really good code.

Industry News | 4 Comments

Codeweavers boost Linux Migration

Codeweavers, the company which gave us the award-winning software to run MAC OS and Windows software on Linux, is giving it’s full support in Lindependence ’08.

Lindependence ’08 is a community endeavor to migrate not one, not ten, but the WHOLE TOWN of Felton, California to Linux. Oh yeah !! That’s what I call mass conversions.

The CrossOver suite of softwares, to run the MAC and Windows applications on Linux,  will be made available by CodeWeavers to every computer user in Felton. As a result, the newly converts will still be able to use their favourite Windows applications on Linux.

“If the citizens of Felton are ready to take the effort, we want to help them as much as possible.”, said Jeremy White, CEO and President of CodeWeavers.” We think that these sorts of migration efforts vivdly demonstrate that Linux is ready for prime time”

CodeWeavers is also a leading corporate backer of the Wine project.

This is truly an encouraging step by CodedWeavers, one that is exemplary for other ISVs to encourage mass linux adoptions.

Open Source | No Comments