Googler offers cash for Kinect hacks

A Google software engineer is offering two, $1,000 cash prizes for intrepid hackers willing to get down and dirty with Microsoft’s Xbox 360 Kinect.

According to Googler Matt Cutts, the first $1,000 prize will be awarded for writing the “coolest” open-source app, demo, or program using the Kinect.

Meanwhile, the second prize is reserved for someone who “does the most to make it easy” to write programs that use the Kinect on Linux.

“To get your ideas flowing, I’ll offer a few suggestions. Let’s start with the second contest: making the Kinect more accessible. In my ideal world, would-be hackers would type a single command-line, e.g. ‘sudo apt-get install openkinect’ and after that command finishes, several tools for the Kinect would be installed,” Cutts wrote in a personal blog post.

“[Yes], maybe a ‘Kinect snapshot’ program that dumps a picture, a depth map, and the accelerometer values to a few files. Probably some sort of openkinect library plus header files so that people can write their own Kinect programs.”

Cutts added that he would “love” to see some bindings for a high-level language like Python, so that would-be hobbyists can write 3-4 lines (“import openkinect”) and start trying ideas with minimal fuss.

“[So], to win the second contest, you could write any of these libraries, utilities, bindings or simplify installing them on recent versions of Linux/Ubuntu (let’s say 10.04 or greater).”

Additional contest details, along with more of Cutt’s Kinect hacking proposals can be found here