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Microsoft Says Kinect Left Open By Design

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the always-at-war-with-eurasia dept.

Microsoft 215

kai_hiwatari writes "Around two week ago when Adafruit announced a bounty for developing an open-source driver for the Kinect, Microsoft made it clear that they didn't condone it. Now Microsoft seems to have realized the potential of their device and has made a U-turn. Alex Kipman, Xbox Director of Incubation, now says that they left the Kinect open by design. Kipman said, '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.'"

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Oh yeah (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34292620)

We totally meant to do that cool thing you guys thought we didn't mean to do ... and stuff.

Re:Oh yeah (5, Interesting)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 3 years ago | (#34292750)

He's probably right. You should see what they did with Windows Phone 7; the protocol they speak over USB is encrypted, even though the protocol is known, and the data being transferred is usually also known. It has deep security.

Now, maybe they didn't leave it open specifically because they wanted people to write an open source driver, but if they had been serious about keeping it closed, they would have almost certainly given it a better attempt.

Re:Oh yeah (1)

noidentity (188756) | more than 3 years ago | (#34292880)

I just took a quick look at the driver's code code [github.com] and there's no sign of any decryption.

Re:Oh yeah (1, Insightful)

Sam Douglas (1106539) | more than 3 years ago | (#34293006)

Can you spell DMCA?

Re:Oh yeah (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34293116)

It's fun to stay at the YMCA.... oh :(

Re:Oh yeah (1)

makomk (752139) | more than 3 years ago | (#34293028)

You should see what they did with Windows Phone 7; the protocol they speak over USB is encrypted, even though the protocol is known, and the data being transferred is usually also known. It has deep security.

Wow - Windows Phone 7 really is Microsoft's iPhone clone!

Re:Oh yeah (1)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 3 years ago | (#34293108)

It's worse.....at least on the iPhone they allow you to run native code. On Windows Phone 7 you don't even get that.

Re:Oh yeah (0)

not already in use (972294) | more than 3 years ago | (#34293206)

It's worse.....at least on the iPhone they allow you to run native code.

FWIW, some of the games running on the wp7 look better than anything I've seen on the iPhone. I understand there a few reasons for wanting to run native code, but performance shouldn't be one of them.

Re:Oh yeah (2, Interesting)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 3 years ago | (#34293220)

They were probably written in native code. Microsoft gave the capability to EA, Adobe, phone manufacturers, and a few others, but not to the general public. What game in particular are you talking about? I'll check it out.

Re:Oh yeah (1)

not already in use (972294) | more than 3 years ago | (#34293256)

ilomilo, which was developed using XNA and C#. The Harvest is another game, although I'm not sure if it uses XNA.

Re:Oh yeah (2, Interesting)

Flipao (903929) | more than 3 years ago | (#34293292)

Wake me up when WP7 can do Unreal Engine 3 [youtube.com] or ID Tech 5 [youtube.com]

Re:Oh yeah (3, Insightful)

QuantumRiff (120817) | more than 3 years ago | (#34293062)

Of course, they didn't bother to implement the encryption features of the ActiveSync protocol developed by this company called Microsoft, for this server product called "Exchange" so companies that require remote device encryption can't use these brand new phones. In fact, Android doesn't support it yet either. (but hey, its not a google protocol or server, so i cut them slack). In fact, the only mainstream device that does support it is the iPhone.

Re:Oh yeah (2, Informative)

kevinmenzel (1403457) | more than 3 years ago | (#34293144)

cough blackberry cough BES cough

Re:Oh yeah (3, Insightful)

Locutus (9039) | more than 3 years ago | (#34293164)

Windows Phone 7 encryption is all about DRM and so there's little in the Kinect to protect. Plus, they need every bit of processing they can get on the Xbox so encrypting the sensor stream would have required CPU power to decrypt and again, what's there to protect? My guess is that it was just easier to just the data as it was delivered and to even try to do as much as possible on the Kinect before shipping data over the USB bus.

Microsoft probably realized that if they try to block this it will make them look more like idiots instead of business people looking to make money of anything they can. If they locked it down it would cost them CPU cycles on the console, they'd sell fewer Kinects. and they'd look like the protectionists they really are.

They did the right thing by leaving it alone and continuing to sell it as a separate device. I am surprised they are not requiring it be sold with a bundled game at a higher price though.

LoB

Re:Oh yeah (1)

Buelldozer (713671) | more than 3 years ago | (#34293444)

It's likely that you're right. It's also possible that the 360 didn't have enough ponies under the hood to handle an encrypted stream and they were forced to leave it out.

Developers? (3, Insightful)

huckamania (533052) | more than 3 years ago | (#34292884)

I haven't seen any Kinect APIs or support in Visual Studio. I do see some very early libraries by some 3rd parties.

For Steve "Developers^3" Balmer to not have the resources in place is pretty ludicrous and tantamount to negligence. They obviously have all the pieces, I just don't see them in play. If they were smart, they would start rolling this out the SDK and OS integration before Christmas. Unfortunately, I have about as much faith in MS handling this right as I do the Dallas Cowboys making the Super Bowl this year.

I am much more excited by gesture and voice controls then touch interfaces. I have a cold this week and just trying to keep my monitor clean without touching it is a challenge.

Re:Oh yeah (2, Interesting)

LBArrettAnderson (655246) | more than 3 years ago | (#34292886)

The comments in this thread are ridiculous. Of course they meant to. This isn't some random project by 4 college dropouts. This is one of the most successful companies to ever exist. If something is open, they meant for it to be open. It isn't like they used some weak type of encryption. It's entirely open.

Re:Oh yeah (1)

Shadowruni (929010) | more than 3 years ago | (#34292938)

I wish I could disagree with you but I know this is what happened.

Re:Oh yeah (5, Insightful)

Mysteray (713473) | more than 3 years ago | (#34293044)

No, it "isn't some random project by 4 college dropouts." Based on what I see from the outside about the way MS works it's more likely to be:

13 MBAs from prominent schools who specialize at yelling at their subordinates
1 guy from the former Soviet Union with a Master's degree in EE
1 guy with a Master's degree in Java UML frameworks from each country that has a population over 1B
18 part-time contractors and outsourcers

Only one of these is likely to know what the word "hackable" means and he's smart enough to know when to keep his mouth shut.

Sounds right (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34293446)

Mod parent UP.

Re:Oh yeah (1)

Bert64 (520050) | more than 3 years ago | (#34293150)

Unless having it closed was a specific design goal, it would end up being open by default as trying to close it would cost money and potentially delay the project.

Re:Oh yeah (2, Insightful)

jacks0n (112153) | more than 3 years ago | (#34293154)

While it may be true in this instance that they intended to leave that interface open, assuming that being a successful company implies that all their actions are deliberate is taking it too far. To paraphrase ...somebody- never ascribe to competence what can be adequately explained by indifference.

Re:Oh yeah (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34293162)

True. it is pretty darn obvious that when MS first heard about "hacking" the Kinnect they were worried about actually having another device that could pretend to be a valid Kinnect. This has not been done. In fact, what was done is not really hacking - more just determining what the USB signals are. Nothing was broken, no security was compromised, etc. MS now realizes that it wasn't what they thought it was and are certainly not upset that you can use a Kinnect on other platforms. They just don't want to have other devices that can authenticate as a Kinnect to an XBox 360 so that cheating isn't enabled. Very straightforward.

Re:Oh yeah (4, Insightful)

vegiVamp (518171) | more than 3 years ago | (#34293342)

Since you are suggesting that everything they leave open is deliberate, I should say it's high time to start suing their balls off for all the security holes, viruses and botnets they've enabled.

Re:Oh yeah (5, Insightful)

timeOday (582209) | more than 3 years ago | (#34292894)

Really, who cares what they intended in the first place?

I read this statement as: "we are NOT going to sue or try sue unauthorized Kinect developers. we are not going to upload new firmware to close the barn door every time it connects to the Internet. We are not going to try to figure out who is doing this and ban them from XBox Live."

All this is great news.

Re:Oh yeah (3, Insightful)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 3 years ago | (#34292928)

I read this statement as: "we are NOT going to sue or try sue unauthorized Kinect developers.

      And I read it as "we are NOT going to sue unauthorized Kinect developers unless they come up with some really revolutionary, astounding and above all - money making - idea."

Re:Oh yeah (5, Insightful)

noidentity (188756) | more than 3 years ago | (#34292964)

Interesting how it's now great news for a company to not be a fucking asshole and prevent owners of the devices from doing whatever they want with them. Used to, this was just considered what any normal company would allow.

Re:Oh yeah (2, Funny)

hduff (570443) | more than 3 years ago | (#34293070)

We totally meant to do that cool thing you guys thought we didn't mean to do ... and stuff.

And "by design", they mean "accidentally".

Re:Oh yeah (2, Interesting)

Dan East (318230) | more than 3 years ago | (#34293104)

See, Microsoft can learn! Unfortunately it requires at least one complete failure doing the exact opposite of what they should have done in the first place.

My hunch is that they looked at the financial side, and assuming they don't take a loss on the hardware as a loss leader for software sales, realized they had nothing to lose selling the device outright.

Take that Sony (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34292624)

Just guess which will be my next console

Re:Take that Sony (1)

leamanc (961376) | more than 3 years ago | (#34293086)

Just guess which will be my next console

Ummm, a Wii?

Kipman: (0, Flamebait)

spiritplumber (1944222) | more than 3 years ago | (#34292628)

Wow, those grapes look really sour from down here.

Re:Kipman: (0, Troll)

wowbagger (69688) | more than 3 years ago | (#34292786)

Wow, those grapes look really sour from down here.

Naww, it's just Monkey Boy channeling Paul Reubens: <voice character="Pee Wee Herman">I meant do to that!<voice>

Re:Kipman: (1)

Chris Tucker (302549) | more than 3 years ago | (#34292986)

"Naww, it's just Monkey Boy channeling Paul Reubens: "Pee Wee Herman" I meant do to that! [youtube.com] "

Needs more Xbox (4, Funny)

slyborg (524607) | more than 3 years ago | (#34292630)

I think what he meant to say about the earlier statement was that Microsoft turned 360 degrees and walked away from it.

Re:Needs more Xbox (0, Redundant)

Quartz25 (1195075) | more than 3 years ago | (#34292680)

It is the Xbox *360*, after all.

Re:Needs more Xbox (0, Redundant)

Wocka_Wocka (1895714) | more than 3 years ago | (#34292710)

For your comment to make sense, it would need to be the Xbox 180. 360 degrees is a full circle, back to their original statement.

Re:Needs more Xbox (1, Insightful)

floatednerd (1667997) | more than 3 years ago | (#34292756)

Woooooosh.

Re:Needs more Xbox (1)

supertrinko (1396985) | more than 3 years ago | (#34292760)

Moonwalking is a art.

Re:Needs more Xbox (1)

MasterEvilAce (792905) | more than 3 years ago | (#34292798)

It's a meme. It's wrong by design.

Re:Needs more Xbox (1)

Shadowruni (929010) | more than 3 years ago | (#34292942)

Stop making sense on a Slashdot MS two minutes of hate!

Re:Needs more Xbox (0, Redundant)

Wocka_Wocka (1895714) | more than 3 years ago | (#34293180)

-1 Redundant? Really? This was posted before the AC below me, and I don't see a -1 Redundant on their post.

Re:Needs more Xbox (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34292714)

They're at 180. Next week, when they send the DHS/FBI/CIA after Adafruit and all implicated, then they'll complete the 360.

Bad article title (1, Insightful)

zonker (1158) | more than 3 years ago | (#34292638)

Corporate may have wanted it closed but the engineers left it open. I'm guessing some of the engineers hoped folks would do fun stuff with it. But to say MS wanted it open is crap since reps said a few times now the opposite in quite an aggressive tone. Note that I take issue with the article title, not what Alex Kipman said.

Re:Bad article title (1)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | more than 3 years ago | (#34292764)

One thing that's worth noting is that the Kinect actually is protected—against fake Kinects, which would actually cut into MS's profit margin, unlike using Kinects in weird ways. It has to do some encrypted handshaking in order to be used with an Xbox; this was mentioned in the story that announced the first output retrieved from it. I think this is a win–win for everyone so far.

Re:Bad article title (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#34293002)

MS makes less money off of each Kinect when used sans Xbox, but they do make a bit of money. I don't think that they want to encourage people to buy it without buying XBox games to go with it.

Re:Bad article title (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#34292996)

Or the PR folks just weren't properly briefed. The comments they made sounded sufficiently ignorant that I'm not really sure that they were speaking for anybody. Remember the comments were about modding, and the "mod" was just a driver, it didn't actually change any of the hardware inside the device or allow it to do things other than work without an Xbox 360.

Everyone has a right to change their mind (5, Insightful)

19thNervousBreakdown (768619) | more than 3 years ago | (#34292642)

If Microsoft's knee-jerk reaction is the wrong one, well, that's to be expected. They're assholes by nature. But, if after sleeping on it (and consulting with their lawyers and engineers and finding out there's nothing they can do that won't eat up every cent of profit they might have made on the thing) they come up with the right decision, I'm willing to forget their previous stance. Keep it up long enough, and they might even earn some goodwill.

Re:Everyone has a right to change their mind (1, Insightful)

MyLongNickName (822545) | more than 3 years ago | (#34292754)

Please see my sig.

Re:Everyone has a right to change their mind (3, Interesting)

hipp5 (1635263) | more than 3 years ago | (#34292796)

If Microsoft's knee-jerk reaction is the wrong one, well, that's to be expected. They're assholes by nature. But, if after sleeping on it (and consulting with their lawyers and engineers and finding out there's nothing they can do that won't eat up every cent of profit they might have made on the thing) they come up with the right decision, I'm willing to forget their previous stance. Keep it up long enough, and they might even earn some goodwill.

I do agree that this is certainly better than them being complete idiots and trying to fight this til the end of time. However, if they didn't want to come off as asshats I think they should have said, "originally we had said that the Kinect should remain closed. However, we see that a group of talented enthusiasts has taken our hardware and done some truly innovative stuff with it. We now see that value in this, and wish to commend them on their hard work. In fact, we're so stoked about this that we've decided to donate a Kinect to 100 high school robotics teams across the country." Now THAT would look good on Microsoft.

Re:Everyone has a right to change their mind (4, Informative)

Rockoon (1252108) | more than 3 years ago | (#34292940)

However, if they didn't want to come off as asshats I think they should have said, "originally we had said that the Kinect should remain closed.

No, thats not what they originally said.

What they said is two very short quotes. Here, let me help you:

"Microsoft does not condone the modification of its products. 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."

Thats what they said, exactly.

Re:Everyone has a right to change their mind (3, Insightful)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#34293022)

Right, but as it turns out, this isn't tampering, and it's not something which they made any meaningful effort to avoid either. I suspect that if anybody does manage to upload a custom firmware that they may step down hard on that.

Re:Everyone has a right to change their mind (1)

gumpish (682245) | more than 3 years ago | (#34293058)

Did the MS drone who produced cited quotation ever explicitly state that creating an open source driver amounted to "modification"?

It sounds to me like they didn't understand the question.

Re:Everyone has a right to change their mind (1)

Rockoon (1252108) | more than 3 years ago | (#34293442)

Did the MS drone who produced cited quotation ever explicitly state that creating an open source driver amounted to "modification"?

They stated exactly what was quoted. Thats it. Is this hard to understand?

Re:Everyone has a right to change their mind (3, Insightful)

Aldenissin (976329) | more than 3 years ago | (#34293080)

That's just doublespeak for, "We knew it was left open (D'oh!) , but we still had to talk tough against it because it goes against everything our souless company stands for." I wish I could believe they were being nice, but as someone pointed out, even if you were right they could have still said "Tthis is GReeeaaaTTT!" and donated 100 to some highschool. Instead they play it off (poorly), as if they "meant" for this to happen. Give me a break.

Probably not even changing their mind (5, Insightful)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 3 years ago | (#34293016)

People far too often ascribe personal characteristics to a corporation to the extent of viewing them as having one mind, one vision, one goal. That's not the case of course. They are made up of many people, who have different objectives. This is particularly true in the case of the massive conglomerate types like MS that doesn't have a controlling leader.

So what very well could have happened is that the development/project team on Kinect said "Let's leave this sucker open. We aren't going to spend any funds developing alternate uses, but let's not spend any time putting shit to prevent it either. Let people do whatever the hell they want with it." So Kinect gets developed with that in mind. However when it is launched and people look at it Assistant PR Flunky Third Class Number B was asked about hacking it, probably with the journalist using the term "hacking" and then fired back with Standard Lawyer BS Statement Regarding Hacking Form 5114CXX1 Subtype J which said "Graaaah! Hacking bad MS smash!" After a bit this makes the rounds, while Kinect is hacked, and internally the questions is asked as to the real intent. The director of the project says "It was supposed to be open!" and after clearing that with legal and corporate for release, they do so.

Notice the original statement was "a company spokesperson." In other words some low level guy who gets the calls when a news publication wants to know something, someone with no real knowledge or authority. This new statement is from Alex Kipman, a director at Microsoft who is directly involved with this, someone who knows what the hell is going on.

So that's probably what happened. Not changing their minds, just normal corporate confusion. The statement Cnet got was just a generic response from PR, that probably hadn't been well considered or prepared, just pulled from the "We defend our IP," bin. The second statement is their real position, from the project director.

Is Microsoft disintegrating? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34292660)

How can they think anyone would believe this? Seriously, it used to be that when Microsoft spewed FUD, it was rock solid. They had their marketing act together and rolled over the competition.

Nowadays they can't even see past a couple weeks. Their products are still ok but with Ballmer at the helm they've been reduced to flinging poo in every direction, hoping that something sticks.

The MSFT shareholders better get their act together before it's too late.

Re:Is Microsoft disintegrating? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34292950)

How can they think anyone would believe this?

It is ridiculous not to, it would be easy for them to encrypt the code, they haven't even tried. That is not an oversight, that is by design.

NPR Sci Fri (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34292666)

This sounds exactly like what was said on NPR Science Friday yesterday -- probably a regurgitation of that program. What the article doesn't point out: M$ is locking down the interesting parts at tightly as possible --- that is, you can drink from the 30 fps firehose of data coming out the USB, but there's no access to the interesting libraries to turn that into information. Can't blame 'em M$ has about three years work (no idea how large the team is) in those libs.

How else (0, Troll)

Dyinobal (1427207) | more than 3 years ago | (#34292670)

How else would they get new ideas to steal?

Re:How else (2, Insightful)

kimvette (919543) | more than 3 years ago | (#34292716)

How else would they get new prior art ideas to patent?

Fixed that for you!

Get other people to invent and develop, then they can patent and troll!

Re:How else (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34293200)

On occasion they hire people. That is how most of corporate managers steal their ideas. Hire, grind, steal, fire.

Another great way to steal new ideas is to release beta code to the public. A good number of high school enthusiasts in the 80s were looking forward to careers as beta testers (alpha testers were the programmers on coffee break). Corporations quickly figured out that the store shelves are a much more profitable method of beta testing.

trust us! (0, Troll)

Xtifr (1323) | more than 3 years ago | (#34292672)

Yeah, yeah, it was by design! And if you believe that, we've got a nice bridge^H^H^H^H^H^Hoperating system to sell you. :)

That we left open by design... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34292678)

"That we left open by design..."
=
"That we forgot to lock properly..."

Re:That we left open by design... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34292864)

Do you honestly believe that Microsoft, one of the most successful companies *ever,* would just forget to lock something?

It *was* by design. Microsoft isn't as incompetent as you think.

Re:That we left open by design... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34292962)

So I guess this pirated copy of Windows 7 Ultimate that I'm using, that shows a "genuine Microsoft software" logo and uses automatic updates and everything, is a testament to how competent Microsoft really is. I guess they meant to leave Windows 7 "open" too, huh?

Re:That we left open by design... (1)

IAmGarethAdams (990037) | more than 3 years ago | (#34293118)

That copy of Windows had protection which had to be broken.

This Kinect protocol didn't.

Maybe... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34292688)

They've learned that closing down the system just makes it a fun game for some to crack it?

The Usual Microsoft Flip-Flop (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34292690)

Before open driver:

"Developing open drivers for the Kinect hardware will be considered here at MS as tampering with trade secrets, and will be prosecuted as such."

After:

"Oh no no no no no we totally designed it that way in order to foster, um, innovation?...yeah good job to those guys."

Re:The Usual Microsoft Flip-Flop (4, Insightful)

Shadow99_1 (86250) | more than 3 years ago | (#34292818)

It wasn't a flip flop, it was one random persons comment within MS earlier on that everyone has assumed is gospel on MS's stance. If MS had: Given a press release, stance commented on by someone among the top (like the director of the gaming division), or made an official statement this would in fact be a flip-flop. Instead this was the intention that one random uninformed person didn't know about in the first place.

Now it would probably also be different if people wanted to do something besides using the kinect...

Re:The Usual Microsoft Flip-Flop (1)

dragonjujotu (1395759) | more than 3 years ago | (#34292948)

1. Rumor
2. Streisand Effect
3. Somebody else does the work
4. ???
5. Profit!

Their side of story (5, Informative)

asvravi (1236558) | more than 3 years ago | (#34292720)

The first thing to talk about is, Kinect was not actually hacked. Hacking would mean that someone got to our algorithms that sit inside 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 what we have put a ton of work and effort to make sure doesn’t actually occur.

        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.

Re:Their side of story (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34292772)

What they mean by "hacking" is actually "cracking" but they carefully choose the word "hacking" to proselytize.

The underlying propaganda = "hacking = software and ideas Microsoft doesn't sell"

HTH

Re:Their side of story (1)

LordLimecat (1103839) | more than 3 years ago | (#34293012)

Um, no, not at all, since the new driver (which they have no issue with ) IS "software and ideas Microsoft doesnt sell".

Microsoft is a company, and has ALWAYS been about making a profit. Keeping cheaters out, while simultaneously becoming THE hobbyist camera doohicky of the week, accomplishes that goal nicely.

open by design? My ass! (2)

siddiqui (147424) | more than 3 years ago | (#34292724)

"First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win."

Re:open by design? My ass! (4, Funny)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#34293054)

I'm sorry sir, but this isn't the appropriate venue to offer those sorts of services. I'd refer you to Craig's list, but apparently they aren't that sort of venue either.

The first statement (1)

sideslash (1865434) | more than 3 years ago | (#34292736)

...was from the lawyers. Probably MSFT engineers were thrilled with the tech community phenomenon all along, and now have permission to say so. To anyone but a lawyer it's obvious that everybody wins in this situation -- hardware hackers get really cool toys to play with, Microsoft sells a few more, and -- most importantly for Microsoft -- they will get critical technical analysis and feedback that they would never get from ordinary (game) consumers. If they're smart, they'll use this process for product improvement. Here's hoping they can keep the lawyers out at the golf course for awhile. :)

Re:The first statement (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34293032)

MS researchers are thrilled by the third party applications being developed. Remember that many of them came from academia not long ago and understand the potential of the device.

If MS really wanted to support hacking through the USB interface, they should release the interface specs. Tell us the commands and how to fully utilize the hardware.

Re:The first statement (1)

Com2Kid (142006) | more than 3 years ago | (#34293096)

If MS really wanted to support hacking through the USB interface, they should release the interface specs. Tell us the commands and how to fully utilize the hardware.

That would cost MS money, they would have to assign someone to clean up whatever internal docs they have and make them fit for public consumption, get someone from legal to sign off that the docs have been cleaned of MS trade secrets, and then get the docs pushed on to MSDN with appropriate linkage.

All for zero return.

Not going to happen.

And while we're at it... (2, Funny)

broKenfoLd (755627) | more than 3 years ago | (#34292746)

"We also /wanted/ the Kin to fail after like 9 minutes on the market as a learning experience for our Win7 phone team"

Ninty should take notes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34292790)

System Menu update 4.2 anyone?

Smile for the camera (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34292808)

It's Microsoft... they always smile for the cameras

MS has mixed up 'Hacking' and 'Cracking' (4, Informative)

HalAtWork (926717) | more than 3 years ago | (#34292822)

Hacking would mean that someone got to our algorithms that sit inside 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.

No, that's cracking. Hacking seems to be exactly what has taken place... The device has been used as defined by the user, not the original software, for purposes outside of the original scope of the device as intended by the producer of the device.

Re:MS has mixed up 'Hacking' and 'Cracking' (2, Interesting)

madprogrammer (214633) | more than 3 years ago | (#34293128)

No, that's cracking. Hacking seems to be exactly what has taken place...

Whatever. The point is that the expensive part of Kinect is what's inside the XBox and much more difficult to get to.

A little over a year ago Microsoft announced to developers that all that processing was going to be removed from the Kinect (Natal at the time) and be done on the XBox. It seemed like a stupid idea, and they said it was to cut costs which seemed lame. But when the open source driver came out last week I realized there really are some forward-thinkers at Microsoft. Now they have a peripheral which is relatively cheap to make and was quite cheap to design, and all of the money they spent on R&D is nicely protected inside a box.

Re:MS has mixed up 'Hacking' and 'Cracking' (1)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | more than 3 years ago | (#34293134)

No, that's cracking. Hacking seems to be exactly what has taken place... The device has been used as defined by the user, not the original software, for purposes outside of the original scope of the device as intended by the producer of the device.

I thought people had finally given up on trying to keep a word's definition from changing despite how it's commonly used - but I see there's at least one soldier left, fighting that already-lost battle.

Their next announcement (1)

bobstreo (1320787) | more than 3 years ago | (#34292824)

If you can't prove you own an Xbox the price is $250

The hardware is useless (1)

zlogic (892404) | more than 3 years ago | (#34292828)

I always thought that Kinect was a software-only solution. Why on Earth would you want to buy a $200 thee-eyed webcam? Realtime image recognition is a very CPU-intensive task and is performed by the xbox CPU. My bet is that the software R&D costs were at least one figure higher that the hardware.

Re:The hardware is useless (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34292866)

It can produce a depth image. It's not thee-eyed (whatever that should be), but on the other hand, I'm not sure what you bought for $200 - either something else, or somebody really ripped you off.

Re:The hardware is useless (2, Insightful)

Black Gold Alchemist (1747136) | more than 3 years ago | (#34293074)

False. The Kinect has hardware (ASIC's, IIRC) to do stereo vision, as well as an infrared textured light projector. This hardware does textured-light stereo, which is very computationally intensive task. You're getting RGB+D images for the computational price of reading from a webcam, instead the cost setting up a textured light projecter, reading two webcams and running stereo software. You also get a stable, well calibrated system, instead of what you'd get with building your own. It also costs $150 instead of $200, BTW.

Re:The hardware is useless (1)

jcupitt65 (68879) | more than 3 years ago | (#34293222)

It's not stereo, actually. It gets depth by measuring dot spacing from the single IR camera.

Let's judge their actions. (1)

PaulMeigh (1277544) | more than 3 years ago | (#34292856)

Words are cheap, including (often deserved) anti-MS comments on /. MS could very easily go the Apple/Sony route and push updates in an attempt to break third-party software that uses Kinect. If they do not do this, they deserve some credit for defying the 'my use case only' approach that appears to be the trend in consumer electronics these days.

Re:Let's judge their actions. (1)

Chris Tucker (302549) | more than 3 years ago | (#34292954)

Please tell me how MS could push Kinect updates that would break third party software on Mac OS and Linux?

Re:Let's judge their actions. (1)

VortexCortex (1117377) | more than 3 years ago | (#34293092)

Simple. Start producing Kinects that require "validation" via plugging into the Xbox360 possibly while connected to XBL.

Sure, if the first batch doesn't have some kind of time delayed mandatory driver update then the first batch will not be able to break third party software built for it; However, the Zune has an encrypted handshake and is therefore only usable on MS approved OSes so it's not too far of a stretch to think this could happen in the future for the Kinect.

It reads the inputs from the sensors (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34292914)

or else it gets the embrace-extend-extinguish again.

Ah, memories (1)

goldaryn (834427) | more than 3 years ago | (#34292918)

Kind of reminds me of the time that the Windows source code was leaked whoops I mean made open source

The need every sale they can get... (2, Interesting)

HumanEmulator (1062440) | more than 3 years ago | (#34292930)

Most game developers won't develop games for a pricey peripheral until Microsoft can say we've sold XXX (large number) of Kinects. Even if they're losing money on them (I've read arguments both ways) they need every sale they can get to guarantee a steam of games for it. Even if that means Joe-Linux is getting a Microsoft subsidized IR webcam.

1984 (1)

l00sr (266426) | more than 3 years ago | (#34293020)

Came here for the 1984 reference, left satisfied. Thanks, Timothy!

Seriously (1)

Ryanrule (1657199) | more than 3 years ago | (#34293140)

Why dont companies cut out the tongues of their executives, or at least force them to wear a muzzle. They have the mentality of high school students.

Hacking Vs. Cracking (1)

pgn674 (995941) | more than 3 years ago | (#34293174)

FTFA:

This is what Alex Kipman said:

The first thing to talk about is, Kinect was not actually hacked. Hacking would mean that someone got to our algorithms that sit inside 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 [sic] of cheating, which also has not happened. That’s what we call hacking, and that’s what we have put a ton of work and effort to make sure doesn’t actually occur.

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.

Hacking means taking a (usually integrated circuit or code based) product that was designed for, built for, tested for, and meant for use A, and modifying it or its inputs or its outputs for use B. Cracking is bypassing a security system, by means of hacking, for the purpose of hacking or some other purpose.

By these definitions, the Kinect was hacked. If the internal Xbox algorithms had been found and used or if someone had augmented the Kinect to cheat in a game, then that would probably be bypassing security systems (I don't know the specific internals of the Xbox) and that would be cracking.

Probably open out of necessity (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34293346)

Kinect already has lag problems, adding encryption isn't going to help.

Plus any extra overhead on the console side isn't going to be great as developers are always trying to squeeze as much as they can out of the system.

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