When Microsoft asked gamers to get off the couch and get moving with the release of the Kinect motion controller in 2010, it's doubtful that zooming around the streets at speeds of up to 32 mph (51 km/h) was the kind of movement they had in mind. But as we've seen ever since unofficial open source drivers hit the Internet in 2010 and Microsoft came to the party with its official Kinect for Windows SDK last year, the Kinect has proven to be a remarkably flexible device. That flexibility now extends to a motion control interface for a motorized electric skateboard modestly dubbed by its creators, the "Board of Awesomeness."
Unveiled at CES 2012, the Board of Awesomeness is the creation of a team from Chaotic Moon, a mobile app-making studio that looks to have taken the "mobile" aspect of its business to the next level. The electric skateboard sees a Kinect Sensor fixed to the front of a longboard so it faces back at the rider to detect their movements and gestures. These are translated into commands used to control the board's 800 watt electric motor, which is powered by a 36 volt battery and can carry the rider at speeds of up to 32 mph. Thanks to its all-terrain tires, the board can also head off road.
There's a "Phidget" interface module located on the underside of the board, while an as-yet-unreleased Samsung Windows 8 prototype tablet mounted on top of the front of the board acts as the central brain of the system. The touchscreen tablet allows the rider to not only visually monitor their gestures, but also turn the board on and off and manage speed settings. The board also apparently makes use of the tablet's GPS, accelerometer and voice recognition capabilities.
To get things rolling the rider simply raises their hands to activate the Kinect. They can control their speed by pushing their hands forward to accelerate or pulling them back to brake. As with non-Kinect-controlled skateboards, changing direction is done by leaning. While this control system might be counter-intuitive for board riders used to moving their arms around to maintain their balance, it does look like a lot of fun.
Unfortunately, since Chaotic Moon probably won't be developing the Board of Awesomeness beyond the research project stage, the closest most of us will get to experiencing a ride is through videos like the one below.