Above: Tweet from Kinect studio head, Shannon Loftis…
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 trying to take 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 Johnny Lee, Limor “Ladyada” and myself first started the Kinect bounty and got the open source drivers out there with Hector. When then all watched an amazing open source community flourish. It’s also a little confusing because Kinecthacks.net is not part of Microsoft in any way… WIRED has a full write up on the real story from the most recent issue.
Ms. SHANNON LOFTIS (Studio Manager, Microsoft Game Studios): And in less than a week, KinectHacks.net 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.
It’s awesome Microsoft is embracing the open source efforts from Kinect hackers, I think that’s a better story than this history re-write and it’s also not fair to leave out the many many people in the Kinect hacking community that continues to create amazing works. Any way, I’m looking forward to Microsoft sticking to this philosophy regardless of how they got here. I’d love to see Microsoft do a big Kinect hacks section at Maker Faire.
Updated! Microsoft responded back (see above) – this excellent to see, thanks Shannon!