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Kinect "hackers" won't be prosecuted

Microsoft "excited" by user mods.

Microsoft has softened its approach to alleged hackers tampering with its Kinect hardware, insisting it had intended users to get creative with its new gadget all along.

Earlier this month, following news that one user had managed to hack into Kinect and get it running on a PC, Microsoft had issued a draconian pledge to "work closely with law enforcement and product safety groups to keep Kinect tamper-resistant."

Speaking to NPR last week, Microsoft's director of incubation Alex Kipman and Microsoft Games Studios' Shannon Loftis clarified what they defined as "hacking" and reined in threats to start throwing law suits around.

"The first thing to talk about is Kinect was not actually hacked," insisted Kipman.

"Hacking would mean that someone got to our algorithms that sit on the side 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 why we have put a ton of work and effort to make sure it 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, "he continued.

"The sensor again, as I talked earlier, has eyes and ears and that's a whole bunch of, you know, noise that someone needs to take and turn into signal."

So, Microsoft had always intended Kinect's drivers to be freely accessible? "Yeah. Correct," claimed Kipman.

And nobody is going to get in trouble for utilising them? "Nope. Absolutely not," promised Kipman.

Loftis then explained that Microsoft had actually been looking on with interest at user modifications.

"As an experienced creator, I'm very excited to see that people are so inspired that it was less than a week after the Kinect came out before they had started creating and thinking about what they could do."

So there you have it. First one to create a sentient cybernetic organism wins a cookie.

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About the Author
Fred Dutton avatar

Fred Dutton


Fred Dutton was Eurogamer's US news editor, based in Washington DC.

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