The Kinect has proven to be a favorite among hackers. When paired with a PC (or Mac), it can be used for a multitude of hands-free computing that wasn't possible before. One guy used it to give the power of communication back to his mother after she suffered a stroke.
Chad Ruble's mother suffers aphasia after she suffered a stroke some years prior. Since then, she hasn't been able to use a keyboard due to her inability to recognize letters. Obviously, it has impacted her ability to send her son, and other people, emails or other messages over the Internet. Her son found a simple and elegant solution that owes its success to the Kinect.
As you can see, the interface includes a number of emoticons with corresponding bars to indicate the level of that emotion. Through this, his mother can send simple messages that tell him and others how she is feeling at the time.
Ruble plans on adding more functionality to the app soon with more emotions and messages. He's also working on spacing the emoticons so that his mother won't accidentally switch emotions while she's heading to push the send button.
It's these kind of stories that make hackathons truly worth it. It's all about creating technology and software that can be used to further the advancement and betterment of mankind. Technology continues to improve so that we may reap the benefits and help those who need it most. Giving the ability to communicate through text to somebody who hasn't been able to for the past 12 years is pretty special.[h/t: TechCrunch]