[UPDATE] Since this article was published, Microsoft has issued the following statement through a spokesperson: "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." The original story is below.
Last week, GameSpot sibling site CNET reported on a contest to separate the Kinect from the Xbox 360. According to the report, Adafruit Industries, a New York-based company founded by MIT alumni, is offering a $2,000 prize to anyone who can operate the motion-sensing camera independent of the Xbox 360 console.
Now, it looks like the contest has a potential winner. Over the weekend, a member of the NUI Group, an open-source development community, appears to have hacked a Kinect unit. As can be seen in several videos, the developer, known as AlexP, appears to have been able to control the camera with a PC running Windows 7, not the Xbox 360. In one video (below), he appears to have been able to control the Kinect camera's motor, moving the unit up and down, while the Kinect unit's color and infrared displays appear on the screen. (AlexP had previously written a similar program, which allowed the PlayStation Eye camera to be used by PCs.)
As of press time, Microsoft had not responded to requests for comment on the hacked Kinect unit. However, it did voice its strong disapproval of any such tampering to CNET. "Microsoft does not condone the modification of its products," a company spokesperson said. "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."