Hacked Kinect Makes Perfect Home Automation

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We talk to Mike, the creator of a home automation hack that has the web (and the industry) buzzing.


Mar. 11, 2011 — by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Most young people would be completely content using a Kinect to play video games. Not Mike. This 27-year-old decided that he needed to play the home automation game.

Mike is a bit secretive about his setup, only saying that it’s a custom system that he’s developing. “The media software is a simple HTPC front-end I hacked together years ago (with occasional tweaks since then) to run my home theater,” Mike says on his YouTube page.

The system in the video below uses halogen light bulbs. Also, with the exception of the central controller with its software, Mike says that most of the components are commercially available. “I am writing software/firmware and selecting hardware for an embedded automation controller,” he adds.

However, the most interesting thing about Mike’s setup is that there isn’t an Xbox 360 to be found anywhere. That said, he’s not opposed to adding that in the future. (“I do have some ideas for how to make that work,” he says.)

Mike’s interest in automation goes back to his childhood days. He cites both Star Trek and Back to the Future as influences. However, the rest was just a rollercoaster of inspiration. “After the Kinect was hacked, I had some friends over. I was showing them my automation system and talking about the things people were doing with the Kinect,” he says. “That’s when I had the strong epiphany that the Kinect could be used to implement a lot of the ideas I’ve been documenting over the years, just waiting for the right tech to become available.”

Of course, all of that tech isn’t perfected quite yet. Mike says there are power gains to be made, with motion detectors and possible other tweaks. Despite the interest he’s garnered, Mike says this is really just a prototype of the concept.

Despite being very responsive to commenters (which has included at least one job offer), Mike is keeping pretty tight-lipped, promising additional details are coming. Still, he seems to have some pretty big plans for his system—and he certainly has an audience.  “I hope to be able to help automation system designers integrate the Kinect into their existing automation platforms,” he says. “Otherwise, all I can say at this point is that I will have more to say in the near future. This is really just the beginning.”

If you haven’t checked out Mike’s system yet, don’t miss the walkthrough in the video below. You can also find out more (or wait to find out more) on Mike’s website.



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