By Jared Newman | Monday, November 8, 2010 at 11:16 am
The motion-tracking power of Kinect for Xbox 360 could soon be used in PCs or robots, whether Microsoft likes it or not.
A member of the Natural User Interface Group appears to have gained control over Microsoft’s motion-sensing camera. In one YouTube video, the hacker uses a Windows application to tilt the camera up and down. In another, a pair of videos provide feedback from Kinect’s depth and color sensors.
Engadget tracked down the hacker, who goes by “AlexP” in the NUI Group forums. He may not release his work to the public, intending instead to integrate it with CL Studio Live visualization software, but the quick hacking bodes well for other people who want to push Kinect beyond its intended use. There’s certainly an incentive; Adafruit Industries, a seller of do-it-yourself electronics kits, is offering a $2,000 reward to the first person to post open-source Kinect drivers.
Predictably, Microsoft doesn’t want any of this to happen. After Adafruit offered a $1,000 bounty, Microsoft told CNet that it “does not condone the modification of its products” and that it will “work closely with law enforcement and product safety groups to keep Kinect tamper-resistant.” Adafruit responded by raising its bounty to $2,000.
Wait, law enforcement? I suppose Microsoft could use the Digital Millennium Copyright Act’s restrictions on reverse engineering to pursue hackers, but I doubt that’ll deter people. Kinect is neat tech, and if it can be hacked, it will be.
At this point, I’d like to see Microsoft hurry along with its own PC drivers and software. We know that the technology behind Kinect, made by PrimeSense, will eventually appear in other products for uses like face recognition, instant green screens and gesture controls. But for now, Microsoft can still act like it owns the concept, but it has to act fast, or else hackers won’t be the only competition.