Microsoft approves of Kinect open-source projects

Xbox director of incubation tells NPR nobody will get in trouble for writing code that supports motion-sensing camera on non-Xbox 360 devices.

Two weeks ago, an industrious software engineer created open-source drivers, which allowed the Kinect camera to be used with a PC. At the time, Microsoft responded with some legal saber-rattling, saying that it would "work closely with law enforcement and product safety groups to keep Kinect tamper-resistant."

Open-source Kinect projects are A-OK with Microsoft.

Soon thereafter, Microsoft denied that what the engineer did constituted hacking the Kinect at all. That sentiment was echoed on the Science Friday edition of Talk of the Nation by Alex Kipman, director of incubation for Xbox at Microsoft.

"The first thing to talk about is Kinect was not actually hacked," explained Kipman. "Hacking would mean that someone got to our algorithms that sit on the side of the Xbox and was able to actually use them, which hasn't happened. Or it means that you put a device between the sensor and the Xbox for means of cheating, which also has not happened. That's what we call hacking, and that's why we have put a ton of work and effort to make sure it doesn't actually occur."

He continued, "What has happened is someone wrote an open-source driver for PCs that essentially opens the USB connection, which we didn't protect by design, and reads the inputs from the sensor. The sensor again, as I talked earlier, has eyes and ears and that's a whole bunch of, you know, noise that someone needs to take and turn into signal."

When asked if anyone would "get in trouble" for writing such code or finding other uses for the Kinect camera, Kipman had a direct answer: "Nope. Absolutely not." Indeed, Microsoft Game Studios' studio manager Shannon Loftis was effusive in her praise of those who had taken the Kinect into their own hands for non-gaming applications. One such application saw an MIT grad student hooking up a Kinect to a Roomba-like iRobot that could follow hand commands and scan rooms.

"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," she said.

For more on Kinect, check out GameSpot's Kinect Launch Center.

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Discussion

122 comments
mullen1200
mullen1200

"put a device between the sensor and the Xbox for means of cheating" Why would they care if we cheated? Lol its not exactly a competitive online community quite yet :P

7rooper
7rooper

It's a move to see if independent developers and coders can do better apps and game interaction than the MS engineers. So far I've seen a better Star wars, an First Person Shooter and a sidescrolling game using Kinect. I hope someone can show MS how to play COD with Kinect!!!

ebookerd1
ebookerd1

Smart move!! This will increase revenue in 5 minutes!!

Engerys
Engerys

i think microsoft is doing this in the hopes of increased kinect sales, i know i am getting one but its only for my xbox i dont need a 150$ webcam.

thenephariouson
thenephariouson

Next Up, Adaptive Visual Interface ala 'Minority Report' : )

KrazzyDJ
KrazzyDJ

Wow .... if it works for the PC, we all might as well can make our webcams Kinect compatible !!!

gamerpipe
gamerpipe

@Gelugon_baat you didn't get what I said. so there is no reason for you to respond with things we obviously all know. I received no moderation notice about a comment was obviously deleted from here. I was laughing at the fact that specific kind of comments suddenly disappeared without notice. These message were not in violation at all in my opinion and I never said they are in pocket of Microsoft. I meant they easily moderate just like how Microsoft moderate people so easily. hope that clarify it .

karmasbeeoch
karmasbeeoch

just played kinect tonight and wow it has horrible lag. LAG LAG LAG! I'm glad my friend got it instead of me. I won't be getting it.

fauljosh
fauljosh

It's like free development for them. They can wait til someone does something really amazing then buy them up.

shkar
shkar

i sure think that kinect has great uses other than the lame games it has now...

delta3074
delta3074

sounds good, looking foreward to getting kinect, but not gor gaming, i fancy havibg a good play around with what it can do myself, good to know i won't have the police knocking down my door for doing so.

wahyudil
wahyudil

kinect as a child toys = failed kinect as other technology = great

gamerpipe
gamerpipe

hahahaha .it looks like Gamespot deleted specific kind of comments totally. come on gamespot. stop being Microsoft on us. you are not fooling anybody.

ChkChk_boom
ChkChk_boom

But now you can't monopolize the software market for kinect! Silly old Microsoft =P

akiwak
akiwak

Makes sense, no real harm there and it allows more Kinects to be sold without worry. Should the Kinect break because of tampering with the software I'm sure it will null and void the warranty which means the modder will have to buy another. Then in turn it means more money for M$.

bongsyas_23
bongsyas_23

Microsoft and open-source? those two don't go together. but good news anyway..

MOwens9512
MOwens9512

It may seem suprising that they would appreciate people using Kinect for non-gaming reasons, but it really isn't. For one it invites a lot more people to buy the device knowing that they can unlock it to other areas. And isn't that what's good for Microsoft after all: having more people own it? Can't see why they would shy away from boosting their sales numbers, as well as give themselves a PR bump from non-gamers and their loyal fans. Gotta give them credit, they're doing what needs to be done to hit that 5 million sold mark.

xatman911
xatman911

That's more like it. If most companies did that we would progress much faster.

Zacek
Zacek

Surprising answer by one of the biggest software companies. Let's hope people fine new uses to Kinect. It's not a fad.

Phazevariance
Phazevariance

@DarkAngeles - It is unique however because of the integration of voice and facial recognition, and a thermal camera. Among other features, only one, the RGB camera, is the same as eyetoy. Yes, they both see a person, but eyetoy only relates change in the image it sees to the screen, and calcualtes it must be someone moving, where as kinect can actually recognize your body and the bone structure used to make it move.

DarkAngeles
DarkAngeles

@Phazevariance Kinect is not entirely unique, the EyeToy worked similarily and were released years ago. Kinect is indeed a technological advancement however.

okassar
okassar

I hope they take their support a bit farther and make a tab on the Xbox dashboard for free downloads from open source work.

Phazevariance
Phazevariance

Kinect is a very interesting, unique piece of technology and has the possibility to expand many markets with its use. PS Eye is nothing like kinect, besides the 'basic camera' function. I will write drivers for kinect to auto open my door at home when i walk up and control my house via voice! lol

Masterclass2006
Masterclass2006

Seems to me like they tried to stop this but legally they can't so are making out by now saying yeah it's fine.

Phatjam98
Phatjam98

LOL everyone is crazy here. Check it out. MS created Kinect, an amazing piece of tech. If you have used it, you know it is increadible. It is not to play hardcore games in any way. But there are a million ideas on how this kind of tech can be used. MS is letting people mess with it to find other applications so they can then cheaply buy up those ideas. If you develop an idea around a device that is made by a company, that company has a huge upper hand in getting that idea as their own for a much lower cost. This is a genius move by MS. Kinect is here to stay, and I am excited to see how they work it into PC's and other applications.

COPMAN221
COPMAN221

DID THEY HIT THE 5 MILLION SOLD MARK YET?

DukeMagnum
DukeMagnum

lol People are still complaining about its price in an article that has nothing to do with its price. But really guys, do you think MS or Apple or any other company who is sitting on more than a billion dollars got to that point by selling things at a 10% profit margin? It really isn't uncommon for things to sell for 100%-200% more than they cost. When things ARE sold at cost (or at a slight loss), it is sold as a gateway to related products or services that have high profit margins. It's business. Why do you think cell phones without contracts cost more than twice the amount of those with 2 year contracts? Or why do you think DirecTV and Dish Network or whatever provider will GIVE you the equipment? Because they're using those devices to sell you services that will ultimately be more profitable. Anyway, Kinect has a useful application somewhere, but that somewhere probably isn't in gaming, at least not right now. But if you ever want holodeck-like virtual reality, tech like Kinect is a prerequisite because technology builds on itself. The smartphones of today wouldn't be so ubiquitous had there not first been huge bricks that hardly anyone bought or had a use for.

tyrant2004
tyrant2004

I think this just be MS trying to make Kinect more popular; if some crazy, unique open source project is created that uses Kinect, it might increase demand and sales. At this point, I think they'll take whatever good press about it they can.

HsojVvad
HsojVvad

Oh that is funny. Getting the Kinect to work on the PS3. What is next, the 360 having Blueray players? Actaull that would be a good fit but I doubt Microsoft and Sony would work together like this.

CMakaCreative
CMakaCreative

So this is how Skynet was created. Where's John Connor's mom at...somebody needs to knock her up fast.

M-S-M-S
M-S-M-S

I must admit I'm surprise from MS response. lately I've been having a feeling that in resent years MS started to change, and listen to their costumers. Listening and trying to do things that will benefit the costumers. I trully hope that someone will bring the Kinect into PC and The possibilities are amazing. I wonder is some one will allow the kinect to work on a PS3...

TurambarGS
TurambarGS

Well that's refreshing - I would have assumed that they'd pull the usual giant corp move and litigate first, never ask any questions. Just wait until someone pulls off something really cool or until the first sniff of money comes into the equation - then I bet the lawyers will be let out of their cages again.

Nc23Nick
Nc23Nick

Wait, MS is OKAY with it?! I don't know if I should be happy or scared...

steveguttenberg
steveguttenberg

This actually makes me consider buying one. It would be nice if Kinect could be used as a cheap motion capture device for animation in programs like 3DS Max.

malverick
malverick

As some comments have stated, Microsoft want the Kinect to sell well, and if people buy one to mess about with, Microsoft don't care. Sales means money... However, lets not kid ourselves...Microsoft don't care for open-source. Never has, and never will. They are simply waiting for an application that they can take the source code for, modify it enough to make it proprietary and make even more money from it. Apple have done this with BSD and OSX.

xgalacticax
xgalacticax

"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," she said. Lol, I don't know about other PC Devs but I've been thinking about the potential of this device for research since it was announced. I've only been waiting to get my hands on it. Such powerful technology should not be wasted on stuff like Kinect Adventures.

neoand12
neoand12

if I can use it for a PC webcam as well, I'll buy it. not that is being the biggest selling point for me I just would think its cool because I can hit 2 birds with one stone

gamerpipe
gamerpipe

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

archvile_78
archvile_78

Microsoft seems very proud of Kinect to allow open sources. Either way as someone already said, its a win-win for them.

bigbearwa
bigbearwa

As long as MS gets their $150 they could care less what anyone does with the over-priced cam.

steelmouth
steelmouth

thats free reseach work for ms right there, you know once some genius comes out with a profitable code ms is gonna want in on that pie that they never baked right

lazycomplife
lazycomplife

@Ismaelkf Agreed. I want to move my hands in front of the TV and watch breasts jiggle.

Ismaelkf
Ismaelkf

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

ChoiMein
ChoiMein

Ha @ all of you who were saying "Stoopid h4x0rz shud go 2 jaaaail". This is officially NOT hacking, but code monkey'ing, as those of us with brains knew right away...

johnrkinsey1
johnrkinsey1

Big Brother is Watching... And now he wants us to dance... Opening the Kinect application to PC users may be an untapped market for Microsoft. Open development will allow brilliant use of the system. If all else fails, port to the PC.

hesoyamdon
hesoyamdon

kinect is more suitable for pc world than gaming world. people have more us of kinect for their personal use !!!! maybe in the future M$ might have a sort of inbuilt Nano kinect in the MS mobile Phone - if it did happen MS phone can compete with the - I phone

flashn00b
flashn00b

The world is nearing it's end. Microsoft giving A-OK to open source?

KWHCoaster
KWHCoaster

Can't you can wait for MS Office with Kinect support. Look, I don't need the keyboard anymore, I can just draw the letters in mid air!! M$ can see Kinect being using in accessibility solutions, so that's why they're keeping the lawyers leashed.

shani_boy101
shani_boy101

The only way I'll ever use Kinect is as a PC interface.