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Microsoft Hardware Hacking Input Devices XBox (Games)

Microsoft Says Kinect Left Open By Design 215

Posted by timothy
from the always-at-war-with-eurasia dept.
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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Microsoft Says Kinect Left Open By Design

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  • Oh yeah (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 20, 2010 @03:38PM (#34292620)

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

    • Re:Oh yeah (Score:5, Interesting)

      by phantomfive (622387) on Saturday November 20, 2010 @03:55PM (#34292750) Journal
      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.
      • by makomk (752139)

        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!

        • 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 (Score:4, Insightful)

        by QuantumRiff (120817) on Saturday November 20, 2010 @04:45PM (#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 (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Locutus (9039) on Saturday November 20, 2010 @05:03PM (#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
      • 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? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by huckamania (533052) on Saturday November 20, 2010 @04:19PM (#34292884) Journal

      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.

      • by citizenr (871508)

        Why would they? 3D will be a big selling point of the _next_ version of windows. Just like DX10 was suppose to be with Vista.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      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 (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Mysteray (713473) on Saturday November 20, 2010 @04:44PM (#34293044) Homepage

        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.

      • by Bert64 (520050)

        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: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by jacks0n (112153)

        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 (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 20, 2010 @05:02PM (#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 (Score:5, Insightful)

          by pregister (443318) on Saturday November 20, 2010 @08:34PM (#34294544)

          Exactly.

          The quote from the MS exec was taken from this week's Talk of the Nation Science Friday show on NPR (as pointed out in the article) which I think is available as a podcast. It was an interesting segment because despite the obvious product evangelizing that was going on, they really do seem enthused about how a device like this will be a game changer in the way we interact with technology.

          In the first part of the quote, not included in the fine summary, he takes pains to point out the Kinect hadn't been "hacked". He gives two meanings of hacked, the second one being that nobody has been able to modify the signal coming from the Kinect sensors before it gets to the Xbox...which would allow cheating.

      • Re:Oh yeah (Score:5, Insightful)

        by vegiVamp (518171) on Saturday November 20, 2010 @05:37PM (#34293342) Homepage

        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.

      • by citizenr (871508)

        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.

        Actually NO, That "most successful company to ever exist" spends $600 million developing kinect (developing means running around buying out companies like 3DV Systems) and writing skeletal reconstruction code (that has a 0.5second LAG, just try playing Adventures and then compare lag to Fitness that doesnt use skeletal code and doesnt lag at all) ... and in the end used PrimeSense Reference Design because what they developed in house DIDNT WORK.

    • Re:Oh yeah (Score:5, Insightful)

      by timeOday (582209) on Saturday November 20, 2010 @04:20PM (#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 (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Dunbal (464142) * on Saturday November 20, 2010 @04:26PM (#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 (Score:5, Insightful)

        by noidentity (188756) on Saturday November 20, 2010 @04:32PM (#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 (Score:4, Interesting)

          by smartin (942) on Saturday November 20, 2010 @07:36PM (#34294186)

          Yes isn't it, but I heard the NPR interview and there were many long pauses before this guy said the things he said. I suspect that he got a long talking to when he got back to the evil empire and that Microsoft's new open stance on this is really just them watching the ass of the horse run away while they stand in the open barn door.

          The part that really got me was when Ira asked him if M$ was going to sue anyone for doing this. There was probably 30 seconds of dead air while the guy squirmed in his seat and then he said no.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by hduff (570443)

      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: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Dan East (318230)

      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 (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Just guess which will be my next console

    • by leamanc (961376)

      Just guess which will be my next console

      Ummm, a Wii?

    • Just guess which will be my next console

      How about a home theater PC? Among the big three consoles, Xbox 360 is the most open with XNA and App Hub, to which Sony and Nintendo have no counterpart. But PCs are even more open than Xbox 360, and as flat HDTVs have displaced boxy CRT SDTVs, the barriers to putting a slim PC behind the TV have started to fall. All this indie stuff using the Kinect sensor will run on a home theater PC long before Microsoft adds Kinect support to XNA.

    • If you're really so gung-ho for open, you may want to consider the console that uses standard USB connectors and hard drives.

      You know, the PS3...

      I'll probably be buying a Kinect but not a 360...

      • by bami (1376931) on Saturday November 20, 2010 @07:57PM (#34294304) Homepage

        What is not standard about the USB ports on the Xbox? You can even hook up a regular old USB keyboard to it (makes debugging so much easier, by just adding some keyboard listeners to your code and let them fire debug stuff), it's the only device except for my PC that will charge my MP3 player (USB power handshake thing) , and inside the plastic shell lies a regular laptop SATA drive, with a funky connector to connect it to the Xbox (I've broken the thing open because my drive likes to spin down after initial boot, giving me a E68, but a quick disconnect-connect fixes that). That the drive is signed by microsoft with a file on the first couple of sectors is just DRM/anti-piracy/money grabbing, but you can rip it out, format it and use it as a normal drive, nothing abnormal about it.

        If you're really so gung-ho for open, I don't see why you would be interested in a PS3, with all the rampant "shove it up your ass" anti-modding updates sony has been going on for the last year or so, or the fact that you'd have to re-encode your MKV's to watch on the damn thing.

        The perfect open system is a Windows PC (Linux gaming is still a sad affair, even with Wine) with a beefy videocard, a x360 controller, all hooked up to a nice TV. The Games For Windows thing makes it almost into an Xbox (can't tell the difference between Just Cause 2 PC or Xbox, even the tooltips give you the correct icons0, you get better graphics and you can do whatever the hell you want with it. A cheap dualcore system with a 5770 goes for not that much money these days, and can keep up at full HD resolutions with ease. Also gives you access to every codec you will ever need, as well as multitasking, free multiplayer gaming, home entertainment system and whatever you cook up yourself in whatever programming language that you prefer.

        PS: Slight hate on the PS3 for all the "fsck linux" attitude, but not intentional as a flame post

        On-Topic: I hope they release some sort of (un)official extension for XNA with kinect integration soon, do that and I will buy the thing in a trifle, just to do some hacking with it. I'd guess the thing could also be used at parties: no flying wii-motes to hit expensive TV's :D.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          I no longer consider Windows PCs open systems. Windows NT 6.x builds DRM deep into the system. Certain hardware such as video cards are required to implement undocumented features for Windows certification. This is done to facilitate the "protected path" for Blu-ray playback.

          The Windows 7 EULA prohibits you from installing software that would add functionality to the system.

          The reason "Linux gaming is still a sad affair, even with Wine" is because the hardware is undocumented. Without documented h

  • by slyborg (524607) on Saturday November 20, 2010 @03:41PM (#34292630)

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

  • 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: (Score:2, Insightful)

      Please see my sig.

    • by hipp5 (1635263) on Saturday November 20, 2010 @04:01PM (#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.

      • by Rockoon (1252108) on Saturday November 20, 2010 @04:27PM (#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.

        • by hedwards (940851) on Saturday November 20, 2010 @04:41PM (#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.
        • by gumpish (682245)

          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.

          • by Rockoon (1252108)

            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?

        • by Aldenissin (976329) on Saturday November 20, 2010 @04:48PM (#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.

          • by Rockoon (1252108)

            Instead they play it off (poorly), as if they "meant" for this to happen.

            Just like the poster that didnt know what was actually said by Microsoft the first time.. you dont seem to know what they said this second time.

            They didnt "play it off" .. they 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."

            Please dont reply with some crap about the 'by design' portion of the comment... its not a surprise 'bug' .. This is how they desig

            • Instead they play it off (poorly), as if they "meant" for this to happen.

              Just like the poster that didnt know what was actually said by Microsoft the first time.. you dont seem to know what they said this second time.

              They didnt "play it off" .. they 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."

              Please dont reply with some crap about the 'by design' portion of the comment... its not a surprise 'bug' .. This is how they designed their other controllers. Plug it in and then read and write via USB. Thats how Microsoft does controllers.

              Look, either they are playing it off, or they expected this to happen. It's good that they seem to have made a u-turn, but they again, either A. knew this was gonna happen, or B. didn't give it enough thought. In any case, they were being deceitful at some point.

              True, I have a bias against them, but I have a bias against all liars. Playing word games and using doublespeak is a form of deception. Just say right out, "We don't want this and protect against it.", then say, "You know what, we s

    • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Saturday November 20, 2010 @04:40PM (#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.

      • by vegiVamp (518171)

        If the responses you get from PR aren't well considered or prepared, maybe you need a better PR. You know, one that actually does it's fucking job.

  • NPR Sci Fri (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    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.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 20, 2010 @03:47PM (#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."

    • by Shadow99_1 (86250) <theshadow99@@@gmail...com> on Saturday November 20, 2010 @04:05PM (#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...

      • by guruevi (827432)

        No, what happened is:
        1) Some reporter(s) asked Microsoft PR what this meant.
        2) They consulted with their legal team that has a boiler plate message saying: you can't mess with our software or hardware or we'll sue you (which is true for most of their products)
        3) Somebody at the Kinect group saw this and talked to their boss.
        4) They had lots and lots of meetings about this (the original response is about a week or 2 old now)
        5) They came to the conclusion that this might not be such a bad idea since the Kinec

  • Their side of story (Score:5, Informative)

    by asvravi (1236558) on Saturday November 20, 2010 @03:52PM (#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.

  • "We also /wanted/ the Kin to fail after like 9 minutes on the market as a learning experience for our Win7 phone team"
  • by HalAtWork (926717) on Saturday November 20, 2010 @04:06PM (#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: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by madprogrammer (214633)

      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 w

    • 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.

    • It's not a hack, it's a feature
  • 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: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      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: (Score:3, Insightful)

      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 inste
      • by jcupitt65 (68879)
        It's not stereo, actually. It gets depth by measuring dot spacing from the single IR camera.
      • by Rockoon (1252108) on Saturday November 20, 2010 @06:13PM (#34293534)
        How is this insightful when its wrong?

        The Kinect does not do stereo image capture. Thats what those 3D movie people are doing (when they bother with that.)

        The Kinect has two image sensors, thats for sure, but they dont even capture the same wavelengths of light.

        The IR sensor captures only infrared.

        There is some processing going on in the Kinect, but only to measure the spacing (and perhaps size) of the IR dots that are being projected by the device in order to produce a depth-map. This processing is clearly mostly trivial.

        The magic of the Kinect as used by Microsoft is whats going on inside the xbox where they take the optical image, and with assistance from the depth map, detect people and construct a simplified 3d model (usable for input triggers) of how their body is oriented.

        It is this second part that is clearly not-trivial. People come in all shapes and sizes, wear different clothing (if any..), and so forth and so on. Simply flagging the pixels that belong to people vs pixels that dont isnt easy, which is why the depth map is used for assistance.
        • IR dots that are being projected by the device in order to produce a depth-map. This processing is clearly mostly trivial.

          No it isn't. It's really important, especially in a cheap package like this.

          The magic of the Kinect as used by Microsoft is whats going on inside the xbox where they take the optical image, and with assistance from the depth map, detect people and construct a simplified 3d model (usable for input triggers) of how their body is oriented.

          Who cares about detecting people? That's already been done. There's already some Kinect 3D model stuff. What I care about is SLAM and other robotics applications. We just went from $3000 dollar cameras to $150 dollar cameras.

          • by Rockoon (1252108)

            No it isn't. It's really important, especially in a cheap package like this.

            The magic of the checking account is not that you get a statement at the end of every month, and in fact that information is so trivial to derive that some people have opted not to get statements. Important information can be the result of trivial processing, just like that depth map. Thats trivial processing.

            If you dont understand.. let me put it clearly.. The size of dots in a bitmap, or the distance between them, is not a hard problem. Its a trivial problem.

            Clearly you arent equipped to discuss this

        • by marcansoft (727665) <hector@@@marcansoft...com> on Sunday November 21, 2010 @12:33AM (#34295650) Homepage

          There is some processing going on in the Kinect, but only to measure the spacing (and perhaps size) of the IR dots that are being projected by the device in order to produce a depth-map. This processing is clearly mostly trivial.

          No it isn't, and that's not how the algorithm works. As the camera is placed very near to the IR projector, the dot spacing is essentially constant. The dots may be farther apart in physical space for farther objects, but the camera can't see that.

          As far as we can tell/guess, the way it actually works is by measuring horizontal displacement of the dots caused by objects at different depths, due to the horizontal distance between the projector and the camera. This is a lot harder, requires subpixel processing to achieve any kind of depth resolution, and requires a carefully controlled dot projection and calibration to that specific pattern. Not to mention this is likely the reason why the laser projector is temperature-stabilized with a peltier (to keep the pattern as generated by the diffraction grating stable) and why the Kinect's internal chassis is quite solid (the distance between the camera and projector and their angle is critical).

          In fact, you can point two Kinects at the same subject and overlap their IR patterns, and they still work quite well and do not interfere (!) except at a small percentage of points where the clouds line up in the wrong way (you get two almost complete images, with a bunch of small holes where the patterns happen to line up).

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by RebRachman (144344)

          Absolutely. You can get a PrimeSense or Kinect camera if you are a serious game developer. You can also just purchase a Panasonic D-Imager depth camera for a few grand. Probably there will be a dozen of these cameras at consumer price points within a year or two. Having the data from the cameras, as pointed out, is somewhat limited.

          Creating algorithms that will analyze movement takes about 4 years, and you can get this software from Softkinetic and from Omek (I work for Omek). Microsoft has obviously deve

  • Kind of reminds me of the time that the Windows source code was leaked whoops I mean made open source
  • by HumanEmulator (1062440) on Saturday November 20, 2010 @04:26PM (#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.
  • by l00sr (266426)

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

  • 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

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anaerin (905998)

      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.

      The Kinect wasn't hacked, either. What it does is create a RGB+D image, along with providing a 4-microphone array and a few other ancillary functions. This has not been changed, it's inputs (The images/sounds it captures) and it's outputs (Video, Depth Map, Audio, Accelerometer data) have not changed either. All that has happened is that someone has written a driver for the device by observing the data. If they had opened the unit and read and decompiled the firmware off the ASIC, or decompiled a firmware u

  • The initial response was for the punters who might not want to buy a Kinect because "O NOES ITS BEEN HACKD!!11!". Because for people like that, it means that evil hax0rs can do things like watching you make an arse out of yourself waving your arms around in front of your TV (naked or otherwise).

    The subsequent response is for the tech-savvy (dare I say it) hackers who might want to add value to their product by coming up with cool new uses for it, and who in turn misinterpreted their initial response as "O

  • I didn't expect it to be so accurate, but jesus it came out really cool. Playing Table Tennis on a 12 foot projected surface is surreal.

    MS is probably being honest to say they left it open. It's an obvious PC interface, at least IMHO, and I'll bet it get released with the next iteration of the DirectX SDK. I can see a lot of dedicated environments for business where this makes complete sense as a mouse replacement. It's not a "wireless" anything, it's completely hands free, which sounds like a trivial d

  • They have no problem with people using the Kinect in the way they are.
    Microsoft DO want to stop people hacking the Kinect to gain an advantage in games (i.e. cheating) and they DO want to stop people hacking the Kinect in an attempt to create fake or knockoff products.

  • Has anyone got the idea of using kinect with Blender for motion capture animation? Might make the animation process easier. Make your own Avatar style 3D movie in a couple weeks perhaps.

  • Because it would really look bad if they put months of engineering effort into it and then some wise ass kid in Sweden published drivers for it while the printing presses were still warm. I guess all those threatening mouth words they made were from Microsoft Russia, who apparently are drunk on Vodka most of the time?
  • If you can't beat them get them to join you. Microsoft will find a way to make money off of this. Not least by selling a ton of Konnect units for PC's now.

The more cordial the buyer's secretary, the greater the odds that the competition already has the order.

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