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Pt 101286

Above: Tweet from Kinect studio head, Shannon Loftis…

“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 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.

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

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!

Phillip Torrone

Editor at large – Make magazine. Creative director – Adafruit Industries, contributing editor – Popular Science. Previously: Founded – Hack-a-Day, how-to editor – Engadget, Director of product development – Fallon Worldwide, Technology Director – Braincraft.


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Comments

  1. Dave Hillier says:

    Yes. No. Who cares?

  2. Except that Microsoft themselves have said that using open-source Kinect drivers “voids warranty.”

    Link: http://bit.ly/open-source-voids-kinect-warranty

    1. Anonymous says:

      @twitter-7167172:disqus +1  – they left out that part too, you cannot use the microsoft SDK for kinect for any commercial use – unlike the open source drivers which allow you to (and why many businesses have formed around the OS drivers/use).

      1. Drew Harwell says:

        The third party drivers void the warranty because they don’t want to have to deal with stupid people who might break their kinects, it’s not because they don’t want them used. 

        They DID create the device, and sell it, and they have been good about embracing hacking, at least recently, and they’ve publicly released an SDK, that’s more than Sony or Nintendo would ever do.  They do deserve some credit.

        1. Anonymous says:

          @facebook-505386939:disqus

          1. ms’s terms to scare people away from using the open source drivers:

          http://blog.makezine.com/archive/2011/06/things-you-cant-do-with-the-microsoft-kinect-sdk.html

          and here:
          http://blog.makezine.com/archive/2011/06/microsoft-says-using-open-source-kinect-drivers-voids-warranty.html

          the language is pretty bizarre and it specifically targets things like “shop windows”.

          if ms really wanted people to use their SDK like the OS drivers that they are fans of, they’d allow commercial use and not have those scare tactics in there…

          2. sony has a SDK: http://blog.makezine.com/archive/2011/03/sony-wants-hackers-playstation-move-sdk-coming.html

          3. so does nintendo: http://www.warioworld.com/

          that said – i think i give them credit in my post “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.”…

      2. Drew Harwell says:

        The third party drivers void the warranty because they don’t want to have to deal with stupid people who might break their kinects, it’s not because they don’t want them used. 

        They DID create the device, and sell it, and they have been good about embracing hacking, at least recently, and they’ve publicly released an SDK, that’s more than Sony or Nintendo would ever do.  They do deserve some credit.

  3. Tim Johnson says:

    This is a non-story. Kinect is cool. There’s an SDK now. Use it. Move on.

    1. Anonymous says:

      @twitter-4937481:disqus the SDK is non-commercial and not usable in the same way at all as the open source drivers, so no one can actually “move on” as you say :)

  4. Tim Johnson says:

    This is a non-story. Kinect is cool. There’s an SDK now. Use it. Move on.

  5. AndrewS says:

    seriously phil, this again?
    you need to make just a separate site to moan about things that aren’t open source but you think should be, and places that aren’t hackerspaces, but you think should be.
    I thought this was supposed to be a friendly website, but most of the stuff you write seems to be just you having a go. I don’t know if you write other stuff, its just that whenever i read something that’s a news piece about some big faceless company not liking things the author likes, i think hmmm, this must be phil again, and low and behold, scroll to the bottom, and there you are.
    The only profile on the whole site with a face that looks menacing.
    I suppose it suits anyway.

    1. Anonymous says:

      PT’s current brief on the site, as Editor at Large and as the editor of a bi-weekly “Soapbox” column, is to do exactly what he’s doing. We couldn’t be happier with the work, and from the massive traffic and attention his pieces get, the interwebs couldn’t agree more. He’s largely doing editorials, so that means asking questions, not being afraid to ruffle some feathers, to go out on limbs, speculate about the future, etc. I don’t think calling companies to account, pointing out their hypocrisies, challenging companies to change their policies, etc. are inherently mean.

      Now, on the other hand, calling PT’s image “menacing” and saying that it suits him is the sort of name calling and personal attacks we are trying to avoid.

      1. Anonymous says:

        andrew s, i removed your comment, you’re welcome to email me directly to discuss…

    2. Anonymous says:

      PT’s current brief on the site, as Editor at Large and as the editor of a bi-weekly “Soapbox” column, is to do exactly what he’s doing. We couldn’t be happier with the work, and from the massive traffic and attention his pieces get, the interwebs couldn’t agree more. He’s largely doing editorials, so that means asking questions, not being afraid to ruffle some feathers, to go out on limbs, speculate about the future, etc. I don’t think calling companies to account, pointing out their hypocrisies, challenging companies to change their policies, etc. are inherently mean.

      Now, on the other hand, calling PT’s image “menacing” and saying that it suits him is the sort of name calling and personal attacks we are trying to avoid.

  6. Anonymous says:

    hey gang, as you can see the post is now updated, microsoft responded to my request for clarification, etc – this was a good response, glad to see they’re on it.

  7. Rahere says:

    Rahere, whilst sitting back and recalling exactly whose email sicced PT onto this in the first place, reminds users that this is entirely and precisely what this site is and should be about: invalidate your warranty! because the said warranty is a gross rip-off of your real rights. Either a company wants to sell a product or it doesn’t, anything else is shystering.

  8. Rahere says:

    Rahere, whilst sitting back and recalling exactly whose email sicced PT onto this in the first place, reminds users that this is entirely and precisely what this site is and should be about: invalidate your warranty! because the said warranty is a gross rip-off of your real rights. Either a company wants to sell a product or it doesn’t, anything else is shystering.