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$2,000 Bounty For Open Source Xbox Kinect Drivers

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the helping-everybody-to-look-dumb dept.

Microsoft 274

ptorrone writes "Open source hardware company Adafruit Industries is offering a $2,000 bounty for the first person or group to upload driver code and examples under an open source license to GitHub for the Xbox Kinect released yesterday. The Kinect sensor outputs video at a frame rate of 30Hz, with the RGB video stream at 32-bit color VGA resolution (640×480 pixels), and the monochrome video stream used for depth sensing at 16-bit QVGA resolution (320×240 pixels with 65,536 levels of sensitivity). The open hardware group would like to see this camera used for education, robotics and fun outside the Xbox." The bounty was originally $1,000, but Microsoft's dour response induced Adafruit to double it. ("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.") In addition, the Xbox 360 dashboard update that preceded Kinect's launch contains upgraded anti-piracy restrictions.

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Is reverse engineering still legal ? (2, Insightful)

JonySuede (1908576) | more than 3 years ago | (#34138964)

Is reverse engineering for interoperability purpose still legal ?

Re:Is reverse engineering still legal ? (4, Insightful)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#34139000)

Depends how you do it. It's oddly ironic how now when it hurts MS they don't think reverse engineering is such a good idea. Especially since they made most of their money based upon IBM clones.

Additionally, I like how they're claiming that this has something to do with product tampering.

Re:Is reverse engineering still legal ? (0)

HazMathew (207212) | more than 3 years ago | (#34139230)

IBM pc is an open architecture.

Re:Is reverse engineering still legal ? (4, Informative)

mikael_j (106439) | more than 3 years ago | (#34139492)

The BIOS wasn't, it was reverse engineered by clone makers.

Re:Is reverse engineering still legal ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34139508)

Sure... now!

Re:Is reverse engineering still legal ? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34139666)

http://www.joystiq.com/2010/11/04/kinect-teardown-two-cameras-four-microphones-12-watts-of-powe/

"Something with two cameras and 4 microphones is the last thing from Microsoft I would allow in my house"

Spyware?

Re:Is reverse engineering still legal ? (4, Funny)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | more than 3 years ago | (#34139840)

Winston, Inner Party members can turn it off - those propriety dictates that this be for no more than half-hour intervals.

Signed, O'Brien.

Re:Is reverse engineering still legal ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34140100)

you already have something with one camera and one microphone controlled by microsoft. it's called a laptop.

Re:Is reverse engineering still legal ? (1)

Quantus347 (1220456) | more than 3 years ago | (#34139078)

Well, in this case I'd think it would fall in the same category as jail-breaking your ipod/pad/phone. There is no theft, piracy, resale, or actual profit involved.

Personally, I dont see why Microsoft would want to block it, considering all the mileage Nintendo got from the various educational and/or open-source wii-mote projects in the past.

Re:Is reverse engineering still legal ? (3, Insightful)

ByOhTek (1181381) | more than 3 years ago | (#34139296)

Aye. A Kinect would be a great tool/controller for a computer.

Then again, maybe that's it - they don't want the computer to have one more way to compete with the 360.

Re:Is reverse engineering still legal ? (2, Insightful)

sznupi (719324) | more than 3 years ago | (#34139498)

They'll want it when it's ready, nicely integrated and a must-have feature of Win8.

Re:Is reverse engineering still legal ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34139880)

Except jailbreaking your phone has an explicit DMCA exemption handed down a few months ago by the LoC. The Kinnect has no such exemption, and thus it would be illegal to circumvent any copyright protections placed on it.

Re:Is reverse engineering still legal ? (1)

jandrese (485) | more than 3 years ago | (#34139150)

Yes, unless the technology contains any form of encryption or obfuscation, then it falls under the DMCA and is illegal.

Re:Is reverse engineering still legal ? (5, Informative)

kimvette (919543) | more than 3 years ago | (#34139410)

Wrong.

Reverse engineering (section 1201(f)). This exception permits
circumvention, and the development of technological means for such
circumvention, by a person who has lawfully obtained a right to use a
copy of a computer program for the sole purpose of identifying and
analyzing elements of the program necessary to achieve interoperability
with other programs, to the extent that such acts are permitted under
copyright law.

Source: http://www.copyright.gov/legislation/dmca.pdf [copyright.gov]

Re:Is reverse engineering still legal ? (1, Insightful)

camperdave (969942) | more than 3 years ago | (#34139488)

Did you miss the "to the extent that such acts are permitted under copyright law" clause in that citation?

Re:Is reverse engineering still legal ? (1)

One Louder (595430) | more than 3 years ago | (#34139468)

From the DMCA:

(2) No person shall manufacture, import, offer to the public, provide, or otherwise traffic in any technology, product, service, device, component, or part thereof, that— A) is primarily designed or produced for the purpose of circumventing a technological measure that effectively controls access to a work protected under this title; M

How is an image taken by this device a "protected work"? Is MS claiming to own the copyright on the images captured with this device?

Re:Is reverse engineering still legal ? (1)

amicusNYCL (1538833) | more than 3 years ago | (#34139516)

How is an image taken by this device a "protected work"? Is MS claiming to own the copyright on the images captured with this device?

What? No. The image is not the interesting part, the conversion of the image to control data is the interesting part.

Re:Is reverse engineering still legal ? (1)

One Louder (595430) | more than 3 years ago | (#34140154)

However, assuming someone decodes the format and meaning of the control data produced by conversion of the image, that data is not covered by copyright, let alone Microsoft's, and therefore not a protected work, and thus not covered by the DMCA. The code that does the conversion is protected, but not the data it inputs and outputs.

Re:Is reverse engineering still legal ? (1)

jandrese (485) | more than 3 years ago | (#34139664)

No, it's the access controls that are the protected work. Microsoft effectively came out and said so in their response.

Is there cryptographic authentication? (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34138984)

Presumably there is cryptographic authentication here that needs to be broken. Sounds like some student's differential power analysis school project is about to get a bit more lucrative... and legally risky...

Kinect for Robotics (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34139020)

This would actually be excellent for robotics! Those specs are about on par with Point Grey's Bumblebee2 stereoscopic camera (the cheapest standalone stereoscopic camera for robotics), which retails at about $3,000! It would be great to be able to make cheap robots with that kind of stereoscopic imaging power.

Re:Kinect for Robotics (2, Insightful)

BlueRaja (1397333) | more than 3 years ago | (#34139124)

Of course if this happened, sales of Kinect sensors would go up without sales of Kinect video games going up... and since MS is actually *losing* money on these sensors, suddenly the price of Kinect sensors would go up...

Re:Kinect for Robotics (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34139372)

Microsoft profits on every sensor sold. www.gamesmantra.com/kinect-will-be-profitable-from-launch.htm

Re:Kinect for Robotics (5, Informative)

BlueRaja (1397333) | more than 3 years ago | (#34139544)

What Microsoft said was they are "confident that every unit of Kinect sold to gamers will generate profit." That doesn't mean they are making a profit on each unit.

Re:Kinect for Robotics (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34139658)

Hmmm... took a bit to finally find the direct quote from Microsoft. Most articles I've read put the same implied guarantee Gamesmantra did. At any rate, your original point is valid one way or the other. Margin on the device alone has got to be slim at best, and the real cost recoupment will come from game sales.

::cue::cat i-opener KEKE KEKE KEKEKE!!! !!!!!!! (1)

Thud457 (234763) | more than 3 years ago | (#34139378)

"Nice business model you have there." not!
"It'd be a shame if bad anything happened to it..."


Maybe, you know, properly license the thing if you're not willing to sell it ala cart. You've got lawyers, have 'em look it over. Don't be a bunch of overpriced retards.

Re:Kinect _SOFTWARE_ for Robotics (2, Insightful)

sznupi (719324) | more than 3 years ago | (#34139462)

Hardware-wise, Kinect isn't anything particularly special - basically few mics, simple visible light webcam, two stereoscopically arranged IR ones (take out IR filter from an ordinary webcam, replace it with non-exposed part of photographic film) capturing projected light pattern, very limited tilting.

Everything very interesting and useful happens on the CPU of X360...

It's not merely a case of drivers, you'd need highly specific software anyway. Might as well use 2 inexpensive webcams.

Re:Kinect _SOFTWARE_ for Robotics (5, Informative)

coniferous (1058330) | more than 3 years ago | (#34139672)

Not true at all. Look at the hardware spesification sheets... An arm processor and 512 megs of ram? Thats more then just a webcam and a couple of mics. There is some serious potential for having a hardware device that does some onboard processing.

Re:Kinect _SOFTWARE_ for Robotics (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 3 years ago | (#34139896)

But the bulk of the interesting stuff happens on the X360 - ARM cpu and (mostly for large buffer, perhaps?) memory don't have to be very useful with 1 MiB of flash onboard... after all, everything beyond firmware (and still quite basic processing) can be loaded from X360.

So, at best, there needs to be another machine loading the code anyway (OK, perhaps if one cares about the aesthetics it could be done even by some AVR & USB Flash, AVR acting also as I/O for the body...), and without the access to defining qualities of Kinect.

Re:Kinect _SOFTWARE_ for Robotics (1)

coniferous (1058330) | more than 3 years ago | (#34140024)

>But the bulk of the interesting stuff happens on the X360 What? That may be true, but you don't know that. Nobody knows that except microsoft. I kinda doubt it anyways. Microsoft has been going on and on about how it will only effect the Xbox 360s cpu in single diget numbers. > mostly for large buffer, perhaps What. 512 megs of memory is MORE then a buffer. That would be incredibly huge and totally useless. There is another purpose for that RAM. > So, at best, there needs to be another machine loading the code anyway Possibly. But there is that flash memory on the board as well.... Probably used for code. I have no way of confirming this of course.

Re:Kinect _SOFTWARE_ for Robotics (1)

coniferous (1058330) | more than 3 years ago | (#34140056)

Argh, Forgot my breaks.

>But the bulk of the interesting stuff happens on the X360
What? That may be true, but you don't know that. Nobody knows that except microsoft. I kinda doubt it anyways. Microsoft has been going on and on about how it will only effect the Xbox 360s cpu in single diget numbers.
> mostly for large buffer, perhaps
What. 512 megs of memory is MORE then a buffer. That would be incredibly huge and totally useless. There is another purpose for that RAM.
> So, at best, there needs to be another machine loading the code anyway Possibly.
But there is that flash memory on the board as well.... Probably used for code. I have no way of confirming this of course.

Go Adafruit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34139062)

Limor is a does neat stuff.

Tampering (4, Insightful)

Shotgun (30919) | more than 3 years ago | (#34139072)

Tamper-resistant? You mean, they're trying to stop me from using it the way I choose. Like how the screwdriver manufacturers add elements to the steel to make it so that I can't sharpen the end and make a pin-punch from it? Jeeesh!! What arrogance.

Re:Tampering (3, Insightful)

robot256 (1635039) | more than 3 years ago | (#34139250)

I don't think the screwdriver manufacturers are worried about you making a pin-punch from it. I think they're worried about their screwdriver breaking. If you've ever had the tip on a screwdriver crack off you know what I'm talking about.

Re:Tampering (1)

Mashiki (184564) | more than 3 years ago | (#34139998)

Dunno. I have ex-screwdrivers that were handed down from my father which could be sharpened after they broke to punches. Today, I've broken more "high-quality" screwdrivers than I can shake my hands at, at least they have lifetime warranties on them. So I don't feel so bad getting a replacement for nothing.

Re:Tampering (5, Insightful)

countSudoku() (1047544) | more than 3 years ago | (#34139356)

And what a bad choice of language, not surprisingly from a MS spokesweasel. "Tamper-resistant" comes from the time when people were adding poison and other bad ingredients to Tylenol and other products which lacked the little foil "tamper-proof" seal on the package. Tamper-resistant should be protecting ME from something BAD, and NOT for assholes to lock down my new device to their RROD shitbox. Using this fucking hardware any goddamn way we see fit, even if it makes no sense, is what I demand. Crack open that fucking thing and fuck Microsoft in their stupid asses with a Sony Move stick!

Re:Tampering (1)

name_already_taken (540581) | more than 3 years ago | (#34140132)

Using this fucking hardware any goddamn way we see fit, even if it makes no sense, is what I demand. Crack open that fucking thing and fuck Microsoft in their stupid asses with a Sony Move stick!

You know somewhere in North Hollywood, they're making that porno right now.

Of course, it'll be gay porn, but you weren't specific enough (assuming that's not what you're looking for, which I could be totally wrong about).

Re:Tampering (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34139454)

I've done work on tamper-resistant electronics.

I've seen the teardown photos at iFixit... Kinect has little to no anti-tamper protection.

Safeguards, product tampering, law enforcement?!? (5, Insightful)

noidentity (188756) | more than 3 years ago | (#34139074)

But Microsoft isn't taking kindly to the bounty offer. "Microsoft does not condone the modification of its products,"

Once you sell one to me, it's my product, morons.

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.

What the hell, are these X-ray machines or something with radioactive material in them that would sicken the user if he opened it up?!? I had better be sure thisn't some strange dream.

Re:Safeguards, product tampering, law enforcement? (1)

sheehaje (240093) | more than 3 years ago | (#34139338)

It is Microsoft using strong language to scare people.

Reverse Engineering the product to then produce and sell a similar product is one thing, using it as an input device for other things that it was intended for is a totally different ball of wax.

Re:Safeguards, product tampering, law enforcement? (1)

wagnerrp (1305589) | more than 3 years ago | (#34139376)

It's the same business mode as a printer. Consumer printers are so cheap because they are sold at or near cost. They expect to make up the profits in ink sales, so there is motivation to intensely protect those ink sales. The Xbox 360 and PS3 were both sold well under production cost, with the expectation that they would make up for it in video game sales. People who bought Playstations, and ran Linux on them as part of a cluster, got their supercomputer subsidized by Sony.

Microsoft is losing money on these Kinect units, with the hope they will move more units of video games. It is of no benefit to Microsoft if people start buying them up and using them for other purposes. Complain all you want about how that business model is stupid or retarded, but that's what we get.

Re:Safeguards, product tampering, law enforcement? (4, Insightful)

spire3661 (1038968) | more than 3 years ago | (#34139478)

Regardless of the business model, there is no place for this aggressive rhetoric. Microsoft needs to understand that when they sell someone a piece of hardware, it is no longer Microsoft's to control outside of allowing it on their network or not.

Re:Safeguards, product tampering, law enforcement? (2, Interesting)

bluefoxlucid (723572) | more than 3 years ago | (#34139526)

The razor and blade model works for razors and blades. Even if you want to repurpose them to slit your wrists, you have to buy the more profitable blades rather than the useless loss-leader razor.

It doesn't work so great for anything actually interesting that people might buy for reasons other than subsidizing your business model.

Re:Safeguards, product tampering, law enforcement? (2, Insightful)

sznupi (719324) | more than 3 years ago | (#34139584)

Microsoft is losing money on these Kinect units

^this one is really one of those [citation needed] cases

Re:Safeguards, product tampering, law enforcement? (2, Informative)

wagnerrp (1305589) | more than 3 years ago | (#34139760)

Back in June, a 'trusted source' reported that the Kinect cost $150 to manufacture. It seems they're selling at cost, with no profit per unit.

http://www.develop-online.net/news/35198/Source-pins-Kinect-manufacturing-costs-to-150 [develop-online.net]

Re:Safeguards, product tampering, law enforcement? (1)

Mongoose Disciple (722373) | more than 3 years ago | (#34139854)

With that in mind, it seems probable that Microsoft is playing for time.

It seems pretty well standard that manufacturing costs of just about everything video game hardware related go down over time, for various reasons. If they're selling the Kinect at cost right now, they won't be in a year -- so if they can push off people repurposing the unit a little down the road, they can get to a point in which they're making a profit even if someone buys a Kinect and no 360/games.

Re:Safeguards, product tampering, law enforcement? (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 3 years ago | (#34139948)

Even if $150 manufacturing cost is the case - don't forget how this "selling at cost" (not actually harmful in itself) will apply only in one market.

Re:Safeguards, product tampering, law enforcement? (1)

rongage (237813) | more than 3 years ago | (#34139972)

OK, so here is how they can solve the problem...

Since it is presumed that the Kinect will only "work" with Kinect enabled games, sell the Kinect at it's "discounted" price of $150 or whatever it's current sell price is when purchased with a Kinect enabled game. If the Kinect is sold stand alone (no game bought at the same time), then sell it for $50 more. Of course, you then have to make sure that all the Kinect enabled games are at least $50 to make sure that isn't an advantage route to getting just the Kinect for less.

R

Re:Safeguards, product tampering, law enforcement? (1)

clone53421 (1310749) | more than 3 years ago | (#34139726)

It's the same business mode as a cheap printer.

FTFY. You can get printers that are not sold under that business model. Unsurprisingly, they cost more.

Price the toner/ink and the printer together. If you just buy a cheap printer you’re only looking at half of the equation. Find out what it uses, and how much it costs.

Re:Safeguards, product tampering, law enforcement? (1)

timeOday (582209) | more than 3 years ago | (#34139470)

I'm sure Microsoft put somewhere in the fine print of the EULA they can do whatever they want, and you can't. You can be sure of that.

Re:Safeguards, product tampering, law enforcement? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34139538)

eulas only apply to software not hardware idiot. you cant license hardware only lease it.
the eula wouldnt apply if you didnt use M$ software to work with your kinect.

Re:Safeguards, product tampering, law enforcement? (1)

amicusNYCL (1538833) | more than 3 years ago | (#34139558)

I had better be sure th'isn't some strange dream.

FTFY

Re:Safeguards, product tampering, law enforcement? (1)

Richard_at_work (517087) | more than 3 years ago | (#34139768)

You can do what you like with it, but Microsoft still doesn't have to condone your actions or even support them in any way. Their intention with this product is X while your intention is Y, but how you achieve Y is up to you.

Ah the good old days (5, Insightful)

Nursie (632944) | more than 3 years ago | (#34139098)

Whatever happened to people selling devices to other people, so they could use them as they see fit?

Not providing drivers fro other systems, fine, whatever you like, not your responsibility. Working with law enforcement to prevent 'product tampering?

Screw you MS, really.

Re:Ah the good old days (1)

Bourdain (683477) | more than 3 years ago | (#34139430)

I bet the "working with law enforcement part" is not even true

Re:Ah the good old days (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34140158)

No, it's true. Microsoft called a WAAAAAHMBULANCE and the Internet police are taking this case serious business.

Re:Ah the good old days (1)

Ogive17 (691899) | more than 3 years ago | (#34139974)

People use product in an unintended manner and get hurt. Then they sue.

Not that I think it is right, but companies have to cover their ass very carefully these days.

bounty (4, Insightful)

DeadDecoy (877617) | more than 3 years ago | (#34139100)

Is it me or is 2000$ kinda cheap to hire someone with the expertise required to extract out kinect's source?

Re:bounty (3, Interesting)

godrik (1287354) | more than 3 years ago | (#34139134)

That's what I thought at first. But then, I thought that people are likely to try to get a driver for that just for fun, and for free. Putting a bounty is a way to push people into doing it faster and releasing it publicly.

Re:bounty (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34139178)

Yeah, the people who are going to reverse engineer the interface would have done it anyways. The bounty is mostly to get press for the effort.

Re:bounty (5, Insightful)

rokstar (865523) | more than 3 years ago | (#34139298)

I'd say that Microsoft making a statement like that will push people into doing it faster. Seems like nothing motivates nerds more than being told that they can't do something by a large company or organization. Forget about money, this is now about ego.

Re:bounty (1)

HTH NE1 (675604) | more than 3 years ago | (#34139764)

How well did setting a bounty work for getting chat pad drivers [mp3car.com] ?

Re:bounty (1)

GuldKalle (1065310) | more than 3 years ago | (#34139164)

True, but someone is gonna try to do it for free anyway. Now they have an extra incentive to keep going and to publish their results.

Re:bounty (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34139774)

Extraordinarily cheap. Considering this will likely take several weeks of work, if not quite a bit more. I would guess around 200+ hours of time so you're basically getting paid $10/hr for extremely specialized knowledge... and that's if you're first so there's no guarantee you'll get paid at all.

Not worth my time to even look at.

Re:bounty (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34140004)

So you are saying someone in a low cost geography (like say North Korea where they get about $1 a month), or even a place like India where $10/hr is still decent will be the ones to work on this.

law enforcement (5, Insightful)

DarthVain (724186) | more than 3 years ago | (#34139126)

BS.

I am not licensing this product. Your not renting it to me. I am not leasing it. I am buying it, and I'll do with it what I damn well please.

Re:law enforcement (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34139268)

And by doing what I please, I mean "make the ultimate anime girlfriend experience"

Re:law enforcement (5, Informative)

spire3661 (1038968) | more than 3 years ago | (#34139520)

MPEGLA would beg to differ. They can and DO dictate what is done with hardware after the sale. Even when the buying party has no formal contract with MPEGLA, they can restrict whatever you film with your equipment that you bought. Its wrong, it should be illegal, but so far they have been successful in cowing people.

Re:law enforcement (1)

Mashiki (184564) | more than 3 years ago | (#34140020)

It is illegal just about everywhere, except I think the US. And in Canada it's illegal, and we have tougher copy protection and creation rights than the US.

Re:law enforcement (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34139728)

Apparently you have not read the EULA. If you had, you'd realize that you are actually leasing a rented license.

Re:law enforcement (1)

Richard_at_work (517087) | more than 3 years ago | (#34139804)

I can buy a Picasso and then burn it, but no one has to condone that course of action.

16-bit monochrome? (1)

Beardydog (716221) | more than 3 years ago | (#34139262)

My recollection is that it was a 15-bit number with a single-bit used as a "mask" to outline the players in front of the camera. The early demos treated the 15-bit number as RGB, 5 bits per channel.

Mole hunt (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34139308)

Twenty or thirty years ago these things were somewhat neat. Now they are corporate mole-hunts. The engineers who designed the platform already have plenty of drivers, written in ten different languages, and probably have software emulators to run in VMs with any of a dozen different kernels.

What they are doing is mining the community. If anything _really_ good or novel comes up they'll just take it in house, sit on it for a few months, and promptly edge out the submitter--that is standard corporate policy and is the default game played against research associates in any field. As an added bonus if any of the submissions look, smell, feel, or even sound like anything even remotely related to one of those dozens of software drivers that they already have in house then all they need to do is look at friend-of-a-friend links to see who in the research teams is "taking the work home" with them.

Reality 101.

30fps in QVGA? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34139328)

Does the camera still output video at 30fps in monochromatic QVGA mode? It was my understanding that in this mode, the camera is capable of outputting video at a much higher refresh rate.

On What Grounds? (3, Insightful)

keytoe (91531) | more than 3 years ago | (#34139330)

On what grounds can Microsoft even begin to claim any sort of right to restrict reverse engineering this product?

If they are hoping to invoke the DMCA for circumventing a content protection mechanism, I'd like to point out that these things are essentially a couple of cameras and a mic shoved in a plastic housing. Any content captured by these cameras is, in no uncertain terms, mine as it is me 'performing' in front of them.

Re:On What Grounds? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34139590)

It all depends on what ELSE they include in the shrinkwrap besides the neat-o hardware. If they are acting as expected that box contains some withering 20-page EULA that will land yer behind in a sling if you even breathe a word of the goodies contained therein.

ALSO, I understood that this is an intelligent peripheral which processes the inputs from the cameras into something the '360 can use as well as providing feeds of the camera images... Reverse-engineering on steroids will be required to crack that...

Re:On What Grounds? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34139860)

the firmware. any content may be yours but the interpretation by the device firmware and resulting data output is for M$ usage only.

Microsoft's position is tricky (4, Insightful)

denobug (753200) | more than 3 years ago | (#34139346)

On one hand, yes, it is a hardware. You are please to use it as you see fit.

On the other hand, the key to Kinect is not the hardware components itself, rather it is the embedded code that brings everything together, process the data, and make the whole thing work. To that end they do have right to safeguard their code and software design to keep anyone from knowing exactly what they are doing, and how they are doing.

So I think it is not wrong if someone figured it all out by themselves how to use those components or use Kinet in its entirety in other purpose besides connecting to XBox. But I would venture to guess that whoever attempts to extract the code internal to the device would be subject to legal action, and like it or not, Microsoft's litigation would be legitimate.

Re:Microsoft's position is tricky (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34139502)

attempts to extract the code internal to the device would be subject to legal action

Attempts aren't covered by copyright or the DMCA, so the attempt alone will not be subject to any legitimate kind of legal action. In the EU, actual extraction would still be legal, as reverse-engineering for the purpose of interoperability is legal. Distributing the firmware binaries however may be illegal. Distributing tools to extract them (from the device, from the XBox, a game CD or wherever they reside) should be entirely legal again. Using those tools to extract the Firmware from your own XBox, knect, game CD to use the knect yourself should be legal as well.

Re:Microsoft's position is tricky (5, Insightful)

wierd_w (1375923) | more than 3 years ago | (#34139782)

While it might smack of 1984 paranoia, we ARE talking about a motion tracking camera, attached to a closed architecture and DMCA protected computing platform, equipped with broadband internet capabilities, communicating in a DMCA protected communication protocol.

No matter how "OMFG! AWESOME!" this thing is, unless I know for sure what software is being run, I consider it an unsafe product for my privacy.

Just imagine the "Fun", should Microsoft decide to roll out an update that causes the camera to 'passively' track and analyze images of logos it sees, so they can datamine their gaming public for "enhanced products and services", such as "Value added partnerships with partner companies" to offer "Special product offers" to said people? Suddenly, your XBOX becomes the equivilent of a secret shopper in your home, suggesting more Hostess, Dolly Madison, and Pepsi products.

Doesnt matter if the resolution is really crappy, grainy, and the framerate is slow-- it only needs to focus on what the person is wearing/doing in front of the TV. Even surreptitiously snapping and sending jpegs of "logo candidates" to microsoft for bulk processing once a week would be of IMMENSE value to advertising fuckwads. (of course, microsoft would make 'every effort' to prevent personally identifiable information, like your face, and to avoid capturing images of naked users of the Kinect motion controller for privacy reasons, and then trumpet these as being 'good faith'-- but they would still happily capture the logos on your shirt and pants, on the can of pop/beer you are sipping, and what bag of deep fried somethings you are snacking on for their "advertising partners")

But why stop there? This thing has several acoustic microphones too! Just IMAGINE the fun, should this device get co-opted by law enforcement! Why, they wouldnt NEED to "Mandate" cameras be installed in your house-- Why, they stupid sheeple would BUY IT, and INSTALL IT themselves! Just imagine the fun that the security theater types in Great Britain would have with this! The "Full monitor" mode could be activated based on "excessive motion", and or "Highly variable sound input matching XX baseline", and suddenly you are on candid camera while you spank your naughty child's butt. Better have a good explanation when child protective services shows up. (etc.)

So, simply because I have had my "healthy" distrust of corporations and their use of technology turn into a pathological paranoia, I GREATLY desire to see the ENTIRE kinect data stack and software algorithm tree reverse engineered like a Diebold voting machine. The problem is that I have a hard time convincing myself that this one is paranoia.

I want to know EVERYTHING this device does, how it does it, when, and why-- before I would even consider buying one.

Re:Microsoft's position is tricky (1)

wierd_w (1375923) | more than 3 years ago | (#34139938)

(sorry to reply to my own post, but I have to add--)

The REALLY sad part about the potential for use by law enforcement, is that it is practically an eventuality before some "PROTECT THE CHILDREN!" types latch on to a case of domestic child abuse (Most definitely some really raunchy one) in which a Kinect motion controller was scanning the room, but DIDNT record what was going on-- and lobbying/sueing to have that functionality incorporated/activated, so that law enforcement CAN (and will) use it.

For the children.

If not child abuse, some case of domestic violence-- Protecting women is almost as good as protecting children, you see.

Trailing in at scenario #3, we have the run of the mill home-invasion-- where the 360 "sees" everything. See how much big brother loves you?

Seriously-- tear this thing apart, and tear apart Microsoft's Live data protocols too. I don't care about implementing competing products, I want transparency on how THIS product operates, to protect my already small sliver of expected privacy.

Re:Microsoft's position is tricky (1)

BlackSnake112 (912158) | more than 3 years ago | (#34140084)

So if you are doing a lot of XXX rated things in front of the TV you are going to get more porn and lube ads?

Re:Microsoft's position is tricky (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 3 years ago | (#34140086)

Or you can just, you know, turn the device off instead of going overboard with paranoia. or even better - not buy it.

Re:Microsoft's position is tricky (1)

wierd_w (1375923) | more than 3 years ago | (#34140134)

I think that was the gist of my statement-- that I wont buy one until I know for sure--

The issue I have here, is that many people will buy one without that consideration, and that in so doing, the expectation of privacy in the home will be greatly eroded.

Howto : set up a clean-room project ? (3, Interesting)

Thud457 (234763) | more than 3 years ago | (#34139844)

This kind of situation comes up all the time in the FOSS world.
Is there some sort of guide on how to structure a reverse-engineering project to ensure it's done properly?

Re:Microsoft's position is tricky (1)

bluefoxlucid (723572) | more than 3 years ago | (#34140022)

No you see, the Kinect Driver would be to access the data coming out of the Kinect hardware. It wouldn't be the Kinect software platform hijacked; it'd be something you plug into your kernel so when you plug in the hardware it exposes an API to userland to talk to the hardware. This is exactly NOT their code, because they didn't write it; they're threatening action against anyone who writes something that does the same thing their code does, not against anyone who copies their code.

Is the camera the interesting part? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34139362)

It seems like this is just a fancy camera, the interesting bit would be the software that takes the video feed and translates it into commands.

Re:Is the camera the interesting part? (1)

kurokame (1764228) | more than 3 years ago | (#34139570)

More so since the "fancy camera" is all you'd get by hacking the Kinect's I/O.

But you can buy RGB-D cameras separately. There are several about to be released in the $100-150 range (or maybe released by now, I'm lazy, YOU google it). Not vaporware either - these models have been used in the research community for a while now. It would probably be more beneficial to go to the effort of obtaining one of those then doing some useful software work.

Re:Is the camera the interesting part? (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 3 years ago | (#34139708)

The most interesting (and at the same time inexpensive) that I heard about, ZCam TOF camera, was essentially bought & killed by MS...

Re:Is the camera the interesting part? (1)

kurokame (1764228) | more than 3 years ago | (#34139838)

I think most of the recent papers are associated with Intel. The models used there may actually be based on the same PrimeSense camera behind the Kinect. Ideally, this info should be in the paper using the camera. This isn't always the case, but someone who wanted to know badly could start flipping through papers until they find one which documents their equipment adequately.

I'll try to find out more...availability to hobbyists is an important question.

XNA Code? Quite possibly never... (1)

TiggertheMad (556308) | more than 3 years ago | (#34139536)

Funny, but I was just ranting to a friend about how MS seems to be dropping the fucking ball with Kinect driver support in XNA, too. A console lives or dies based on software titles, and they don't seem to be interested in letting developers write code for their brand new toy. I have asked people in the know who work at MS about timetables for an API or SDK for Kinect, but they give this bullshit line about not being able to discuss future releases (Yeah, like a release date for a Kinect dev kit is really going to give the competition a leg up on you, MS.)

This is Microsoft giving developers the finger, yet again. If you aren't a 'preferred partner', you don't get to write code.

Why do they care? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34139626)

That is a serious question! How can it possibly hurt Microsoft if there are customers who want to purchase and repurpose their hardware for something other than playing a game? It is not like Sony is going to buy all of the Kinects and rebrand them for the Playstation. So why does Microsoft waste a single minute engineering "safeguards" to prevent customers from finding new and interesting things to do with their product? Don't they want the inevitable publicity that they will get when some group of MIT undergrads hooks this thing up the the front end of a lawnmower and teaches it how to mow the lawn by itself (or whatever)? I would think it is in their interest to provide an API to any interested party, not to actively discourage people from buying their product. I just don't get it.

Re:Why do they care? (2, Insightful)

clone53421 (1310749) | more than 3 years ago | (#34139780)

How can it possibly hurt Microsoft if there are customers who want to purchase and repurpose their hardware for something other than playing a game?

Which do you think is more in Microsoft’s best interests, selling a bunch of high-tech electronics in a molded plastic case for $150, or selling a piece of stamped plastic for $40?

Mad, Mad World (1)

psbrogna (611644) | more than 3 years ago | (#34139676)

I guess we should all consider ourselves fortunate to be enable to pay for the privilege of using their products. (Yeah right.) Either MS is truly delusional regarding their "Rights as Vendor" or somebody needs their bottom spanked over a poorly worded press release.

They should just go with it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34139794)

When iRobot discovered that hobbyists were buying Roombas just to tear them apart and use them as robots for other purposes besides vacuum cleaning, how did they respond? They made the iRobot Create, purely aimed at hobbyists to make their own robots.

When you got a cool piece of hardware, it just seems to make sense, in the long run, to embrace the fact that people want to play with it in ways not originally designed.

Case study: The Wii remote drivers (3, Insightful)

Captain Spam (66120) | more than 3 years ago | (#34139874)

Okay, I honestly forgot. Did Nintendo flip out when people started developing PC drivers for the Wii remote? I don't seem to recall them raising hell over someone making drivers for their controllers (and Nintendo WOULD be the ones to do so), but Microsoft is doing that for what is effectively a couple cameras?

Re:Case study: The Wii remote drivers (1)

AndrewNeo (979708) | more than 3 years ago | (#34140140)

PC drivers for the Wii remote? It's exposed as a HID device over Bluetooth, you don't even /need/ drivers. Nintendo literally used the simplest method possible.

Next Step (1)

Musicologynut (1624207) | more than 3 years ago | (#34139910)

I'll bet that MS's plan for this technology is to use it in the next itteration of Winsuck. They don't want people puzzling out something they plan to announce and market... that would lead to a loss of profits when they bring about "Windows 7: Motion Edition". It would be fun if "TuxMotion" was old news by then.

I'm thinking spy device (1)

erroneus (253617) | more than 3 years ago | (#34139924)

Imagine this:

Someone, after the technical details are discovered, builds a very small box and slips it inline between the Kinect and the XBox360 as a kind of bridge. It is used to intercept, record and transmit the video data somewhere.

Now, this could become "home surveillance" or "a way to spy on your girlfriend" or "how to stalk your hot dream girl who happens to be a gamer but doesn't know you're alive." The possibilities are endless.

In the end, Microsoft made a thing and tried to lock it down. Problem is, if it is still useful to the XBox, then it can be used by other devices using the same techniques.

I won't be getting a Kinect... nope... not ever. When I do games, it's because I don't want to get up to do anything.

Quick question... (1)

calderra (1034658) | more than 3 years ago | (#34140016)

How much different would these comments look if the article were about Apple and (new iDevice)? I'm guessing the f-bomb would be dropped much less frequently.
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