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“Microsoft Makes Hacking Kinect Easier” @npratc “All Things Considered”

Pt 101284

A lot of upset folks sent this in to us… “Microsoft Makes Hacking Kinect Easier” @npratc…

The Kinect has been a big success for Microsoft’s Xbox. It’s a motion sensor that lets you play video games by moving your body — no controller of any kind necessary. Computer engineers and hobbyists have hacked it to do all sorts of amazing things: They’re using the motion sensor to browse the Web without touching anything, navigate Google Earth with slight bodily movements, and even aid with physical rehabilitation. Perhaps soon, these innovations will let you wave a finger and bring up the Internet on your kitchen wall. Microsoft has just released a software development kit to make it easier for programmers to use the Kinect to control Windows computers, not just the Xbox. Many technologies surrounding bodily motion capture existed well before the Kinect. What is it about this game that has led to such a flowering of worldwide creativity?

Yes, it does seem the Microsoft PR machine & (new) Kinect studio team is taking credit for the open source “Kinect hacking” community and says they purposely “allowed” hacking – the report ignores the efforts from all the open source Kinect hackers out there and how this all happened. They also left out the threatening and intimidating when we first started the Kinect bounty. is not part of Microsoft in any way… WIRED has a full write up on the real story.

Ms. SHANNON LOFTIS (Studio Manager, Microsoft Game Studios): And in less than a week, was up and everybody who had anything to do with Kinect in Microsoft was glued to that site every single day. And every single day, some new innovation got circulated and everybody kind of dropped their jaws in amazement.

SCHMIDT: Giving developers the wrenches to the Kinect was a calculated decision by Microsoft. They could have encrypted the system, but decided not to.

SCHMIDT: Microsoft’s approach to the Kinect is part of a generational shift in the tech industry. Letting other people in to tinker with inner workings could become the default for big companies, rather than building old-fashioned walls for control.

The Microsoft Kinect studio head Shannon Loftis is on Twitter, we’ve asked for comment.

Here is a previous post the last time Kinect was on NPR where the Microsoft team is cornered on air by Ira about the open source efforts (at the time there was a lot of lawsuit-talk).

Img 0226-2

Microsoft says we’re not going to get in trouble – thanks Ira and NPR!

FLATOW: So you have no problem… with the people using the open-source drivers then?

Ms. LOFTIS (Microsoft): As an experienced creator, I’m very excited to see that people are so inspired that it was less than a week after the Kinect came out before they had started creating and thinking about what they could do.

FLATOW: So no one is going to get in trouble?

Mr. KIPMAN (Microsoft): Nope. Absolutely not.

Ms. LOFTIS (Microsoft): No.

FLATOW: You heard it right from the mouth of Microsoft.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. KIPMAN (Microsoft): And by the way, I…

Prof ISBISTER: I’m really relieved.

You can listen to the full show here and also read the transcript.

See our update here.

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  1. I’m sure the fact that the CEO of National Public Media used to be a VP at Microsoft has nothing to do with it.

    I’m also sure that the recent reduction in Federal money for Public Broadcasting hasn’t caused them to be more reliant on large corporate sponsors.

  2. Yes, I’m disappointed in the tone of the story. It made it sound as if Microsoft aided all the clever work people have done in the last half-year, rather than initially impeding it with scare tactics. The phrasing of that MS rep makes it sound like Microsoft created the site! I tried to describe the history of Kinect hacking to Alex (the reporter I dealt with), but I don’t think I made my point very well.

  3. “Embrace and extend” — the truth!

    Give them a break, they did invent windows after all.

  4. what am I missing ?

    "Computer engineers and hobbyists have hacked it to do all sorts of amazing things"

    They are just taking credit for their sdk, that no one will use. They give credit where its due I think.

  5. What a twist. Makes me appreciate all the OSS and OSH peeps out there. Didn’t think it was possible, but Microsoft just slid down another notch for me. Ugh.

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