It seems that offering a bounty of a few thousand dollars for something to be created as open source - when the actual work, if you paid for it even at a reasonable rate would cost a fortune - is becoming the fashion of the moment. Hard on the heels of the offer by Adafruit of $3000 for open source Linux drivers for Kinect we now have an offer of two $1000 bounties from Google engineer Matt Cuts - although the offer has nothing to do with Google.
The first $1000 prize goes to the person or team that writes the coolest open-source app, demo, or program using the Kinect. The second prize goes to the person or team that does the most to make it easy to write programs that use the Kinect on Linux.
He also suggests some potential projects - a "Minority Report"-style user interface, augmented reality, 3D object reconstruction, image processing and scene recognition and so on.
What can you make of the whole idea of trying to steer the open source phenomenon by offering fairly low value prizes? On the one hand it's just a bit of fun. On the other it shuts down the sharing that is fairly commonplace in the open source hardware, and especially software, community. As the prizes are fairly small presumably their effect is small and getting smaller as the novelty effect wears off. On the other hand it seems to be a fairly cheap way of getting some publicity - this news item for example.
Perhaps I Programmer should offer $100 for the solution to world peace - as long as it's open source of course.
If you are interested in the Kinect software prize visit:
3D Gesture Input
How Kinect tracks people