Is it possible to operate a computer like in the Iron Man movies?

The answer will probably surprise you. First off we did some investigative research on the current technologies available to the general public. Given what we currently know about computers, an auditory and oral interface would be completely plausible and can even be constructed in such a way that it would only respond to your voice commands or those whose voices have been authorized. People have been designing, programming, and utilizing oral interfaces for years now. The holographic technology displayed in the movies is still years away and technically holograms are not capable of producing the imagery shown in the Iron Man movies. The closest thing to that technology is the Microsoft Surface.

There’s actually another solution that will let you manipulate files visually using only your hands and a screen. No, it’s not an iPad, iPhone, or even the Microsoft Surface. It’s something much better, something that will leave your hands completely free where you can work sitting or standing. The wondrous technology of which I speak is simply a computer connected to a Xbox Kinect. The Kinect is the new exciting addition to the Xbox 360 that lets you play games hands free. It’s like the Wii without the controllers and better graphics. A contest was recently submitted in the hacker world to hack the new Kinect and adopt it to Linux. The prize was $2,000 cold hard cash! Within days a hacker named AlexP was able to create a driver and adapt the Kinect to work with Windows 7. Now this is breaking news so it will be some time before we see full on videos of users moving files around, opening them, and running games and other software with their hands. “Some time” may be sooner than you think though since the hacker world tends to move pretty quickly on breakthroughs such as this. When a large group of great minds gets together a lot can quickly be accomplished.

Microsoft does not condone these actions thus far and publicly stated the following in a letter to CNET:

“Microsoft does not condone the modification of its products,” a company spokesperson told CNET. “With Kinect, Microsoft built in numerous hardware and software safeguards designed to reduce the chances of product tampering. Microsoft will continue to make advances in these types of safeguards and work closely with law enforcement and product safety groups to keep Kinect tamper-resistant.”

Here’s the Microsoft Xbox 360 ad for Kinect:

I know that Microsoft gets all huffy puffy when people start modding their technology, but they should realize by now that there’s a huge group of us that just love to take things apart and see how they work. Especially if we can adopt it into new technologies like the type discussed in this article. Wouldn’t you like to be able to navigate your computer on a big screen TV using only your hands? Or move files to your laptop by tossing them in it’s direction in the room? There are so many cool applications this technology would bring.

“If you, like me are interested in grabbing up a Kinect, please check out the Gamestop ads below.

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Nintendo Wii Bundle – Nintendo Wii + Wii Sports Resort + Classic Controller for $157

Playstation 3 Modern Warfare 2 Bundle – 120GB PS3 + Modern Warfare 2 + Free Modern Warefare 2 Statue for $339

Highlight Deals
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Instead of decades away from operating our computers hands free, we are mere months I believe. After viewing more videos and reading posts on various hacker blogs while researching this article I truly believe that we are on the verge of something so exciting it will forever change the way we interact with our computers. This technology is being offered now in game shops around the country for a mere $150! Although the amazing holographic displays shown in Iron Man 1 & 2 are still a LONG ways away, I am completely content to work on my blog sitting on the couch drinking a soda in one hand while waving my hand around manipulating photos to post with the other.

Here’s to the future! *Raises a virtual champagne flute full of holographic binary data and chugs it down*

How would you utilize this technology? Tell us by posting a comment below!

Here’s more videos on Kinect and what hackers are already working on!

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About Jonathan G. Nelson

Jonathan G. Nelson is the editor-in-chief and owner of NERD TREK. He is also owner/publisher at AAW Games /, a tabletop gaming company based in Snoqualmie, WA. Connect with Jonathan via Facebook.