The race to claim the bounty offered by Adafruit for open source drivers for Microsoft’s Kinect has been run and won. The winner is hacker Hector Martin whose achievement of producing drivers to pull depth and RGB camera data from a Kinect is made even more impressive by the fact that it came just three hours after the European launch of the device.

Martin wasn’t the first to hack the device, with that title being taken by an Natural User Interface (NUI) group member who doesn’t plan to release the exploit as open source until a US$10,000 donation fund is filled up. But Martin was the first to upload his drivers and have them verified to claim the Adafruit bounty.

Martin completed the task on a laptop running Linux that displays the depth and color RGB images in an OpenGL window. He admits that his solution is “hacky” at the moment but proves the concept and says it paves the way for the Kinect to be used for robotics, art, science and education purposes.

The bounty started out at US$1,000 but was doubled to $2,000 after some needling by Microsoft. Following another comment from Microsoft saying it would “work closely with law enforcement and product safety groups to keep Kinect tamper-resistant,” Adafruit decided to increase the bounty once more to a total of $3,000 for the winner.

Additionally, recognizing that if Microsoft followed up on its threats the Electronic Frontier Foundation EFF would likely be their only hope in defending their hacking rights, Adafruit also threw a $2,000 donation to the EFF into the mix.

Martin says he will invest his winnings in hacking tools and devices for a group of people, including iPhone Dev Team members and Wii hacker team Team Twiizers, with whom he works closely.

Martin's winning open source drivers can be downloaded here.