Hack Kinect, Win Money

Greg Tito

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Sep 29, 2005
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Hack Kinect, Win Money



A DIY electronics outfit in New York is offering a prize to the first hacker to reverse engineer Microsoft's Kinect.

Ever since Kinect was announced, hackers and engineering nerds have been drooling over the possibilities of the technology. Being able to track motion and provide depth information would be perfect for small unmanned aircraft to avoid collisions, for example. Adafruit Industries [http://www.adafruit.com/], run by female engineer and MIT alum Limor Fried in New York City, provides kits for DIYers to cobble together their own electronics. Yesterday, Adafruit announced that it would award a $2000 prize for the first engineer to take apart a Kinect unit and figure out how to output video and a distance measurement. The first entity to upload an open source application that can perform these two tasks, as well as adequate documentation, will win the prize. The prize was originally $1000 before Adafruit read an interview with Microsoft that damned the competition.

"Imagine being able to use this off the shelf camera for Xbox for Mac, Linux, Win, embedded systems, robotics, etc. We know Microsoft isn't developing this device for FIRST Robotics, but we could!" the announcement reads. "Let's reverse engineer this together, get the RGB [video] and distance out of it and make cool stuff!"

Limor Fried read a post on CNET which had a quote from a Microsoft representative which frowned upon anyone trying to get at Kinect's proprietary technology. "Microsoft does not condone the modification of its products," the representative said. "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 did Adafruit do in response? They upped the prize from $1000 to $2000 with the following challenge to M$oft: "Don't make us up it to $3k." I think Fried means business.

Now hackers, start your soldering irons ... 3 ... 2 ... 1 ... Go!

Source: CNET [http://www.adafruit.com/blog/2010/11/04/the-open-kinect-project-the-ok-prize-get-1000-bounty-for-kinect-for-xbox-360-open-source-drivers/]

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Brotherofwill

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Jan 25, 2009
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This will be hacked within a week, possibly even sooner. Nothing is unhackable. PS3 held out very long but now it's fallen, just like this will fall.

The possibilities for the camera sound even better outside of the normal Xbox 360 setup.
 

Erana

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Feb 28, 2008
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Why is microsoft so mad? I mean, if Kinect can be used like how PS3s are used for supercomputers, then why complain about the extra business. And there are gonna be tampering anyway; why not let the respectable people with the know-how to be the ones to do it?
I mean, its not a console mod- people aren't exactly going to be able to pirate COD5 through a camera peripheral...
 

Lvl 64 Klutz

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Apr 8, 2008
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Once again, I have great respect for what hackers can do.

And yet, I have no respect whatsoever for the hackers themselves, even the ones who claim to be "the good guys".
 

Jonci

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Sep 15, 2009
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Erana said:
Why is microsoft so mad? I mean, if Kinect can be used like how PS3s are used for supercomputers, then why complain about the extra business. And there are gonna be tampering anyway; why not let the respectable people with the know-how to be the ones to do it?
I mean, its not a console mod- people aren't exactly going to be able to pirate COD5 through a camera peripheral...
Because these people aren't talking with Microsoft about using their hardware. They are paying for some modder/hacker to reverse engineer it and provide them with the coding/specs. It's theft of Microsoft's work. If they wanted to be legit, they'd talk with Microsoft directly about utilizing the hardware.
 

Xanthious

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Ultratwinkie said:

this video sums it all up. lawsuit time is upon us.
Oh please, PLEASE, explain to me how taking apart a piece of hardware you legally bought and using it for an unintended puprose is illegal? It says nothing about them using M$ software. It would be no different than taking my refrigerator apart and using it as a place to set plants. Somehow I doubt Whirlpool will get butthurt about it.

The way this reads is that this company wants to use the Kinect camera with different perfectly legal software. M$ can't do a damn thing about that. There is nothing illegal about buying a Kinect and using the camera portion for something other than playing Xbox games.
 

cobrausn

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Dec 10, 2008
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You know, I think this is the same company that got in trouble for linking with open source GPL code and never disclosed their own source code.
 

tehroc

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Brotherofwill said:
This will be hacked within a week, possibly even sooner. Nothing is unhackable. PS3 held out very long but now it's fallen, just like this will fall.

The possibilities for the camera sound even better outside of the normal Xbox 360 setup.
That's what I've been preaching since they announced Kinect, the out of game applications far surpass the gaming applications.
 
Jul 22, 2009
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Xanthious said:
Oh please, PLEASE, explain to me how taking apart a piece of hardware you legally bought and using it for an unintended puprose is illegal? It says nothing about them using M$ software. It would be no different than taking my refrigerator apart and using it as a place to set plants. Somehow I doubt Whirlpool will get butthurt about it.
It's not the taking apart bit that's illegal, it's sharing the specifications and data used in Kinect that is.

It's a thin line and a court case probably wouldn't hold up... but taking apart someone elses work to use their core programming in some of your work is generally considered a no-no.
 

Direwolf750

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Apr 14, 2010
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this will be interesting. I hope to see it done, just because, if nothing else, its application in robotics will make everything so much easier.
 

Xanthious

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GamesB2 said:
Xanthious said:
Oh please, PLEASE, explain to me how taking apart a piece of hardware you legally bought and using it for an unintended puprose is illegal? It says nothing about them using M$ software. It would be no different than taking my refrigerator apart and using it as a place to set plants. Somehow I doubt Whirlpool will get butthurt about it.
It's not the taking apart bit that's illegal, it's sharing the specifications and data used in Kinect that is.

It's a thin line and a court case probably wouldn't hold up... but taking apart someone elses work to use their core programming in some of your work is generally considered a no-no.
That isn't illegal either. They said nothing about making or selling a Kinect camera of their own. Hell if I want to take apart my keyboard and hook it up to control say my car I could. It would be no different than what these people are looking to do. They want to use the Kinect camera, camera NOT software, for other purposes than playing games. As long as they pay for the cameras however the hell they choose to use them is no business of M$.

Ultratwinkie said:
actually yes it is. you are reverse engineering the kinect then uploading it for money which is highly illegal. why do you think steve jobs hates people who jailbreak his items? washing machine manufacturers don't care, but software/hardware devs DO. you don't make things open source without the creator's consent. pure and simple.
First off show me where they said anything about selling it. They want someone to make them software that will work with the Kinect camera. To make that software these people need to learn what makes the Kinect tick. M$ is free to make that as hard as possible to figure out but figuring it out illegal in the least bit. You don't agree to a damn thing when you buy a Kinect camera so it's not like there is a EULA in place. M$ can't say a damn thing about how you use it.
 

Direwolf750

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Apr 14, 2010
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Ultratwinkie said:
Xanthious said:
Ultratwinkie said:

this video sums it all up. lawsuit time is upon us.
Oh please, PLEASE, explain to me how taking apart a piece of hardware you legally bought and using it for an unintended puprose is illegal? It says nothing about them using M$ software. It would be no different than taking my refrigerator apart and using it as a place to set plants. Somehow I doubt Whirlpool will get butthurt about it.

The way this reads is that this company wants to use the Kinect camera with different perfectly legal software. M$ can't do a damn thing about that. There is nothing illegal about buying a Kinect and using the camera portion for something other than playing Xbox games.
actually yes it is. you are reverse engineering the kinect then uploading it for money which is highly illegal. why do you think steve jobs hates people who jailbreak his items? washing machine manufacturers don't care, but software/hardware devs DO. you don't make things open source without the creator's consent. pure and simple.
courts have ruled that jail breaking is now legal. And yes, you can. They aren't taking the code, they are figuring out how the camera outputs the data, and making code in which to use it on something other than an Xbox 360... nothing wrong with that, and it's legal.
 
Jul 22, 2009
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Xanthious said:
That isn't illegal either. They said nothing about making or selling a Kinect camera of their own. Hell if I want to take apart my keyboard and hook it up to control say my car I could. It would be no different than what these people are looking to do. They want to use the Kinect camera, camera NOT software, for other purposes than playing games. As long as they pay for the cameras however the hell they choose to use them is no business of MS.
Firstly, fix'd

Secondly, Orly?

Greg Tito said:
The first entity to upload an open source application that can perform these two tasks, as well as adequate documentation, will win the prize.
Open source application = code

Microsoft can only protect their assets internally because of recent laws, that is why a court case wouldn't hold up and why they are employing safeguards.

I'm not saying I don't want to see this happen. Of course I do, it would do wonders for science.

I'm answering your original question, nothing more.