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Bounty offered for hacking Microsoft’s Kinect Xbox controller

Nov 8, 2010 — by Eric Brown — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 2 views

Adafruit Industries, a company that sells DIY open source electronic kits and parts, announced a bounty for the first person to create open source drivers for the Microsoft Kinect 3D game controller add-on for the Xbox 360. After Microsoft publicly disapproved of Adafruit's “Open Kinect” project, the company boosted the bounty from $1,000 to $2,000.

The Open Kinect bounty aims to open up accessibility to Microsoft's hot new $150 add-on for the Xbox 360. The Kinect device contains a camera, audio sensors, and motion-sensing technology, and has the ability to recognize faces and voices, according to a story in our sister publication, WindowsForDevices. The device is claimed by Microsoft to track 48 points of movement on the human body at up to 30fps.

Microsoft's Kinect, with Xbox 360 in background

The hands-free controller enables users to control and interact with the Xbox 360 using gestures, spoken commands, or presented objects and images. The device competes with alternatives such as the Wii Remote with Wii MotionPlus, as well as the PlayStation Move motion control systems.

Adafruit's Open Kinect bounty calls for the development of Kinect drivers for any operating system, as long as they're delivered completely documented and under an open source license. In addition, contestants must submit an application featuring one window showing 640 x 480 video, and another showing depth.

The project asks that submissions be uploaded to GitHub for review. The first contestant to meet the requirements will receive $2,000, says Adafruit.

When project members read a CNET story on its initial $1,000 bounty, featuring a warning quote about the project from Microsoft, they doubled the bounty to $2,000.

"Microsoft does not condone the modification of its products," a Microsoft spokesperson was quoted by the publication. "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."

While Microsoft is expected to release a version of the Kinect for the upcoming, 3D-savvy Windows 8 desktop platform, Adafruit decided the technology was too "cool" to wait. In particular, the company suggests that a hacked, open source Kinect would make a compelling project for First Robotics.

Founded by Segway inventor Dean Kamen, the non-profit First Robotics provides mentor-based programs that build science, engineering, and technology skills for K12 youth.

Adafruit Industries is a New York City based company that sells kits and parts for original, open source, DIY hardware electronics projects. All the projects are redesigned for ease of use, with "nicely silkscreened circuit boards, through-hole parts whenever possible, extra large solder pads, etc." says the company.


Adafruit Industries' Open Kinect bounty page may be found here.

More information on the Kinect may be found here.

The CNET story on the original bounty may be found here.

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