Microsoft does a u-turn on Kinect hacking, says it’s open by design

By Tom Warren, on 22nd Nov 10 11:10 am with Comments Off

Microsoft's Kinect Xbox 360 accessory

Hackers have been using Kinect in unique ways since its release earlier this month. Microsoft originally said it did not “condone the modification of its products” but has now made a u-turn by stating that they left the USB connection open by design.

Speaking in a National Public Radio (NPR) recording entitled “Science Friday”, Microsoft’s Alex Kipman and Shannon Loftis say they are “inspired” by the community use of Kinect. Kipman claimed that no-one has actually hacked Kinect and that “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.” Kipman also added that Microsoft has put a lot of effort into avoiding people tampering with interactions between the sensor and players. “That’s what we call hacking, and that’s what we put a ton of work and effort in to make sure doesn’t actually occur.”

Kinect “hackers” have recently taken the device to new heights. Videos emerged last week of device owners fully controlling Windows 7 and interactive prototype puppets. Kinect hacking is only at the very early stages but what’s clear is hackers are demonstrating the potential of the technology for use on PCs. Microsoft recently purchased 3D gesture experts Canesta. Microsoft’s investment in this technology is likely to see them focus heavily on bringing gesture based control to Windows 8. Earlier this year a number of Windows 8 product slides leaked from a HP employee that pointed towards some new product features. Kinect integration, a Windows App Store and fast boot were all promised. Microsoft previously purchased 3DV systems, who also make gesture recognition technology. With the push for this technology in gaming, it’s only natural that Microsoft would also want to port this to Windows.

Microsoft officials were also questioned on the possibility of legal action from the software giant. Both Kipman and Loftis denied this would be the case, “absolutely not” said Kipman.