Look What Can Happen With A Hacker, A Slurpee and a Degree From MIT.

I finally got my Sony Playstation 3.

You have to understand, this is a big deal for me. When I got my first Xbox about 10 years ago, I had to beg my wife for months before she agreed. There was always something she deemed more important for the “family.” When I got an Xbox 360 about 5 years ago, I had logged in over a year of groveling before she relented to “waste” so much money on a toy.

“You are a grown man,” she said to me. “I don’t understand you wanting to play these games.”

So, when my wife announced 3 months ago that she wanted to try a new video game system for the family, ironically we picked one up last weekend. And I didn’t have to do the dishes once! The only reason it took so long was because she wanted a Wii, and I wanted a PS3. I had to spend several weeks convincing her that Sony was competing with Nintendo and she could have almost the same kind of games, only the Sony platform had more of the stuff I am into. (I like to play the more brutal shoot-em-up games and watch flesh eating Zombies explode after I pump their carcass with a rocket launcher. Nintendo is still releasing versions of Super Mario Bros.)

I finally sold her when I said, “Yeah, but Sony will also double as Blue Ray.”

“Really? You don’t need to buy anything extra for that?”

“Nope. It’s built into the consul. So, if we were going to get a Blue Ray player in the near future anyway, we would save a few hundred dollars if we got a Sony 3.”

“I didn’t know that.”

“Not only that,” I said, going in for the kill on the argument. “But it also has a wireless reader and can pick up on streaming videos from the internet.”

“So?” she asked.

“So, how about streamlining Netflix right to the TV through the Sony 3. If we got a Wii, all we could do is play Bowling.”

Case Closed, and the PS3 is mine! 

We got the Move bundle, which is Sony’s version of Motion Controlled Technology and has a number of family friendly games including “Family Game Night” which is 3-D versions of Life, Mousetrap, Yahtzee, Clue and Twister.

My 6 year old son loves Mouse Trap and my 5 year old daughter is more partial to Life so she can get married and have lots of babies. My wife and I played Yahtzee and Clue until about 11:00 last night after the kids went to bed. (Mr. Green did it in the Conservatory with a revolver, btw)

5 years ago, if you had told me that we would have a family night playing video games, I would have thought you were crazy. When the Wii came out, I thought it was the last dying gasp from a once proud Nintendo industry. I was wrong. The Wii changed everything and has inadvertently launched a digital revolution that might soon change how we interact with each other as well.

Since Bill Gates is not a man to be outdone, when it became apparent that Motion Controlled Technology was the wave of the future, Microsoft released the Kinect which takes the Nunchuck controllers of the Wii and will soon make them look silly. The Kinect is basically a web cam hooked up to a video game consol and takes real time pictures of the immediate surroundings in order to “Move” your player. When you jump, your character jumps. When you dance, your character dances.

When you hit they guy playing next to you, nothing happens in the game, but you will probably get hit back for being an ass hole.

Since the release of the Kinect, Hackers have been hard at work developing new ways to innovate Microsoft’s vision for gaming. Please keep in mind, when I say ‘Hacker,’ the term does not describe the illegal theft of your identity or the infestation of your hard drive by nasty Cookie Monster viruses. Real Hackers simply are looking for ways to understand the digital world around them. Real Hackers are usually enrolled at MIT (or some other geek school) and are looking for a way to make an A on their upcoming report. (They call the cyber anarchists who like to destroy your Hard Drive while they suck on a Slurpee ‘Crackers’) I once knew a Hacker who drove around in his car looking for random signals he could “Hack” into and surf the internet. He held this bulky antenna out of window and when he would get a ‘ping’ he would instantly pull over and bring up the internet.

 “So,” I hear you saying. “Why is that such a big deal?”

Because he was doing this 8 years ago. He was trying to network with other Hackers to adapt computers to connect to the internet without a cable connection. While I was still a little worried about the possibility of a late Y2K bug wiping out all of our computers, he was experimenting with Wi-Fi.

Now, Wi-Fi is at your local McDonalds.

These days, the Xbox Kinect is a Hacker’s wet dream. When they are finished playing Call of Duty, they can start fiddling around with software and develop new ways to adapt camera for other things than just playing a Virtual Dance Off Competition.

For instance, think of the Kinect as basically a webcam that catalogs the immediate room, converting it into a 3-D display. Well, a team of Hackers adapted this technology to create their own 3-D movie. Think Toy Story, only rather than spending millions of dollars to digitally create these characters through expensive programs, soon High School kids will be making 3-D movies of their own for only for only $399.

There is also a team of Hackers who adapted this Motion Controlled technology and applied it to a consumer searching for information on a product. They have developed a way for a customer to just “Point” to a product they are interested in and instantly a data feed can pop up a detailed report of prices, calorie count, or even compare it to other merchandise they may want to compare it to side by side.  All with a wave of your hand.

The possibilities are truly amazing and this isn’t something that may or may not be developed 50 years from now. If you have a degree from MIT and a car to drive to your nearest Target to pick up the Kinect bundle, you can do things like:

Write a program that instantly translate Sign Language for the Deaf and Hearing Impaired into written text

Create a pair of glasses that will “See” a room (or a street corner) and translate those images into signals the blind can feel.

Robotics that follow your movements as you “Move” in front of the camera.

Military applications including pilots who rarely have to fly into a combat zone again

Doctors can perform life saving operations no matter where they are in the world by controlling a pair of “robotic” arms through this same motion controlled technology.

Ok, so some of these last few may need a few more years of development, but the truth is, the technology is here. All that is left is the adaptation and development. 

And of course a few dozen live test subjects who don’t mind undergoing brain surgery by a doctor who is actually on a beach in the South Pacific sipping on Coconut Rum while he is working.

Don’t believe me?  Check this out:



11 thoughts on “Look What Can Happen With A Hacker, A Slurpee and a Degree From MIT.

  1. point of order: you can access Netflix from your Wii as well

    Fun post though! I kind of want the PS3 , if only for the Final Fantasy stuff, but I got the Wii just before that came out and as it’s the first game system I’ve gotten since we had an Atari… well, I’ll just have to rely on visiting friends for that!

    • Shhhh, Gigi, not so loud or my wife will hear you! Then we’ll have to return my PS3 pick up a stupid Wii and I’ll have to remove this blog…or update it with:

      “UPDATE #1…Thanks to my friend Gigi, my new PS3 has been returned and I’m going to be playing Mario Cart tonight instead.”

    • Hey CMSmith:The great news for any “Old Fart” is that game developers are trying to make this same technology user friendly by EVERYONE. Not just a narrow demographic of men between the ages of 12-32.

      Like I said, the Motion Controlled Technology of the near future will be activated by movement, so as long as your arthritis is not too bad by then, you will be able to just activate a program by “moving.”

      I’m so glad you found it fascinating. I watched a program on this over the weekend on PBS and I was hooked. I told Heather, “I’m so blogging about this!”

  2. Great post. Continue to keep more provocative publications. Been following blog for Three days now and I should say I am beginning to much like your post. I need to know how can I subscribe to your blog?

  3. So, you turned me into a shrew! SO not true! I never made you beg and I bought you the Xbox 360 for you for Father’s Day!! If people knew how much of this stuff you make up . . . 😉

    • Heather, my dear, it is a well known fact that even Gallop makes up 25.78% of all known statistics.

      I, on the other hand, am only vaguely aware of 15.2% of my statistics to be made up.

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