Microsoft now says it’s “inspired’ by community finding new uses for Kinect…


Science Friday had a segment on the Xbox Kinect – apparently our bounty / hack was mentioned and now Microsoft’s Alex Kipman & Shannon Loftis says “Kinect interface was left unprotected ‘by design” and they’re “inspired’ by community finding new uses.”

We’ll listen to the show once it’s posted. If you tuned in, post up your thoughts in the comments!


MICROSOFT: “Kinect for Xbox 360 has not been hacked–in any way–as the software and hardware that are part of Kinect for Xbox 360 have not been modified. What has happened is someone has created drivers that allow other devices to interface with the Kinect for Xbox 360. The creation of these drivers, and the use of Kinect for Xbox 360 with other devices, is unsupported. We strongly encourage customers to use Kinect for Xbox 360 with their Xbox 360 to get the best experience possible.”


MICROSOFT: “Microsoft does not condone the modification of its products,” a company spokesperson told CNET. “With Kinect, Microsoft built in numerous hardware and software safeguards designed to reduce the chances of product tampering. Microsoft will continue to make advances in these types of safeguards and work closely with law enforcement and product safety groups to keep Kinect tamper-resistant”.

Congrats to everyone in the open source community, in about one week we turned “work closely with law enforcement” to “inspired’ by community finding new uses for Kinect.

UPDATE: CNET has a follow up too!

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  1. MS would do well to open up the Kinect completely. It will advance apps for platforms besides the XBox that much quicker!

  2. What a turnaround.
    At least they can see that opposing hacks is futile.

  3. My first thought is, perhaps they were worried about someone cloning the hardware and providing an alternative (possibly cheaper) device. Now that they see this could see more units, perhaps they’re OK with it.

  4. Once they open the up the Kinect completely like Joey said, they will double it’s price.
    It’s like those cheap pcmcia DECT cards, dirty cheap (got mine for $25+shipping) and after the project of DECT phone sniffing, they went up to $300. Not kidding, just check eBay, if you can still found one (Type 2, others are cheaper, also less compatible).

  5. I bet those three quotes probably come from three different microsoft employees who have never met each other.

    MS doesn’t care about the Kinect, they care about you buying stuff via the xbox. so yeah, they would prefer the xbox be the only thing you hook it up to (since it exists only to drive sales of the xbox and it’s market). It’s lame but, you know, fair enough.

  6. Funny, especially considering MicroSoft hosts code and instructions for “hacking” the wiimote!

  7. My guess is, somebody at Microsoft saw “Kinect Hacked!” in the news, assumed the device was being subverted to, I don’t know, take pictures of people and do something nefarious with them, and overreacted. Would certainly explain the initial comments about law enforcement.

  8. I’d argue that, for the most part, the different statements aren’t all that hostile to the hack.

    So, the first statement is basically a clear “We’re not supporting this!” boilerplate. They’re also saying, “This isn’t a hack, it’s just a driver” which is true.

    The comments about not condoning modifications seems to be centered around warranty-voiding work. In a sense, if they were talking about mod chips, that is an understandable. It sounds like the spokesperson is confused, but as said previously, it’s not a modification or hack, just a driver (which spokesman A didn’t disparage).

    So, saying it’s open by design seems like a more balanced comment (as opposed to the legal boilerplate or confused rambling).

    I’d argue anyone who puts a standard USB jack on their system is in a sense making it “unprotected by design.”

  9. Microsoft can only benefit here, so I’m not surprised they reversed course once someone who knew what they were talking about got on the horn.

    I mean, what can possibly come of people developing open-source software for the Kinect? More sales of the Kinect? New innovations in how to use the device, which can then be harnessed by game developers, making the Kinect more relevant on its intended platform?

    It’s pretty much a win for everyone.

  10. I love seeing all the open source and mac guys buying Microsoft products again. Could be really good PR for Microsoft.

  11. Did anyone else notice that the internet went from “Kinect makes people dance around like idiots” articles to “Kinect + OSS makes awesome things happen” almost overnight. I can’t imagine that MS isn’t happy that the public buzz about Kinect is no longer all negative.

  12. Third statement lucky..

    This is what happens when legal and marketing are more powerful than development.

  13. This one’s really simple. The XBox Live guys don’t want you to modify Kinect in such a way that you can cheat in multi-player environment. Beyond that, MS would love to see Kinect re-purposed, advancing vision UI in general.

  14. Yeah… I think this is a case of the left mouthpiece not knowing what the right hand was doing…

  15. Aside of hack projects, if Kinect is really open for other Gaming devices and not just for XBox, then a great number of people would buy Kinect and drive the prices even down. I guess that’s a win for the consumers.

  16. They don’t condone HARDWARE HACKS…

    it was obviously left open by design

    there was no assymetric encryption

  17. Congratulations.

    To keep there monopoly MS is probably ready to subsidize some products in non-monopoly markets with money from those two monopoly market. If that is the case for the Kinect that would explain that they became nervous.

    Or they are afraid for competition for the Xbox with the same hardware. But they must have realized they looked a little bit stupid fighting other uses, more options to sell, for their own product.

    They probably overfinanced the phone 7 OS to protect their monopoly’s and hope to create one more. Maybe somebody could offer a bounty for (a version of) an open source OS that is aimed at the same hardware. And perhaps for other monopolized hardware.

  18. What about if you’d cheat by building PHYSICAL cheat bots? Real live human like robots that is controlled by a chip that also snoops on the game data or internet connection?
    It would be the most expensive method of cheating in games ever, but with a bunch of robotics experts and some way to make the robot know what’s going on in the game it could be done.

  19. maybe they finally are finally learning the the lesson when customers buy hardware it is THEIR hardware and can do what they want with it despite all the unconstitutional DRM crap.

  20. “We left it open on purpose.” That sounds like a variation on “It’s not a bug, it’s a feature.”

  21. It would be refreshing if a company just apologized for previous idiotic statements rather than make lame excuses about how this is how they planned it all along. Its nice their behind the idea now, but stop with th dickish “we did it on purpose” statements.

  22. Imagine when the first game that uses the Kinect for the Wii or Playstation shows up. Or better yet, when a Kinect-based formerly XBox-only game is ported to other platforms – say PCs. That may be what is causing Microsoft’s schizophrenia.

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