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iFixit Tears Down Microsoft's Kinect For Xbox 360 280

Posted by timothy
from the will-it-fix dept.
alphadogg writes "Microsoft's new hands-free Kinect game controller is packed with four microphones, two autofocus cameras and a motion detector chip that together make for one heck of a complex toy, according to iFixit's initial teardown of the device. 'We haven't been this excited to get our hands on new hardware since the iPad,' says Kyle Wiens, CEO of the company. 'The way that we interact with computers is (finally) evolving, and Kinect is unlike any hardware we've ever taken apart. In fact, the only thing we've ever taken apart that has anywhere close to this many sensors is Pleo, the dinosaur robot.' iFixit describes Kinect as 'a horizontal bar of sensors connected to a small, motorized pivoting base.' The $150 device that Microsoft put hundreds of millions of dollars of research into can be purchased separately from the Xbox 360 or as part of a bundle. A Prime Sense PS1080-A2 is at the heart of Kinect's motion detection capabilities, as it connects to all of Kinect's sensors and processes images of your game room's color and scope before shooting them over to the Xbox. iFixit couldn't immediately identify all of the chips within the box, so plans to update its teardown."
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iFixit Tears Down Microsoft's Kinect For Xbox 360

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  • by SoVi3t (633947) on Friday November 05, 2010 @02:18AM (#34133310)
    I've had no problems wit hit recognizing me, or any clothing related problems. My kinect sits on my desk, in front of my HDTV, and I have no problem with it reading me. ZERO problem with voice tracking, ever. Sure, it gets mixed up when you do things like cross your arms or hide them behind your back, but it isn't THAT much of an issue. Nothing an update wouldn't fix. And I still hope they release a handheld peripheral to assist with 3D movement in games, or to constantly recognize left/right hands.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 05, 2010 @02:22AM (#34133324) []?

    "For all the talk of revolutionizing the Xbox 360 experience and making gaming more natural/ accessible, it's bordering on absurd how broken Kinect is when it comes to something as simple as working in your home."

    Jeez, that's brutal.

  • by Vickor (867233) on Friday November 05, 2010 @02:37AM (#34133376)

    I'd recommend trying it before you bash it. I've tried it on several occasions in the past (and now own it) and it's accuracy/lag do not feel significantly worse than the wii. I've seen zero problems with lighting, clothing, etc. The voice recognition is actually quite excellent and it even works reasonably well while a video is playing.

    The required distance from the device is annoying though. The menu system as well, but thats a software problem and can be fixed. Check out the dance game for a great example of an intuitive menu.

    Even if it fails as a gaming device (which I doubt), I still see the ability to control your entertainment system without a remote as being common place in the future. For example, I was watching a movie on my xbox while I was reading slashdot. When I wanted to concentrate on replying to a post, I just said "xbox pause" without my fingers every leaving my computer. In fact, I hope the kinect is a finanicial success, because that will inspire competitors to emulate and improve the experience, which means even more awesome stuff for consumers.

    xbox play...

  • by Cylix (55374) * on Friday November 05, 2010 @03:00AM (#34133460) Homepage Journal

    My only complaint as a non-kinect user is the update introduces significant lag in the menu system.

    It's not horrible, but it's not nearly as smooth as it was.

    There was no gain for non-kinect users as well... unless you like the windows 3.1 menu look and feel.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 05, 2010 @03:09AM (#34133482)

    Any idea what Microsoft's parts/manufacturing costs would be for the kinect?

  • by joh (27088) on Friday November 05, 2010 @03:57AM (#34133608)

    ...this is actually opening up some interesting potential. This thing is a tool to recognize and track persons and their movements in a room, no more and no less. Have some of such things in your home, one in each room, connected to a small server. Improve the voice recognition and speech synthesis, add some software and you've got something very close to a home that is watching you, your family and your guests, knows where you are, what you're doing, what you're saying and can speak to you. Give the software access to all your personal communication and data (email, phone, voicebox, scheduling, ...) and your house starts to become aware of you and your life. Could be very interesting (and also very spooky).

    Open Source drivers for these things would open up a world of interesting things to do with it, no doubt.

  • by miffo.swe (547642) <daniel.hedblom@ g m a> on Friday November 05, 2010 @04:01AM (#34133618) Homepage Journal

    Tried one yesterday and i was very disappointed. My Eye-Toy, the Sony product Microsoft copied and extended is eight years old and still more responsive. The lag was very annoying and made games like boxing unbearable since you punch and your boxer punches long after on the screen.

    Since i have used Eye-Toy extensively i was expecting that the Kinect would be much better but it was actually worse in some respects. The tech behind kinect/Eye-Toy has been used extensively in arcades etc so its actually pretty surprising Microsoft couldnt get it right. Perhaps they had to work themselves around some patents of variants that actually work and in the process ended up with an inferior product.

  • by TheEyes (1686556) on Friday November 05, 2010 @04:10AM (#34133636)

    But just like with the iPad, we've got real innovation here that came out of a closed environment.

    I don't see any innovation here. Kinect and iPad are both just evolutionary steps. None of the concepts of these devices are in any form new. To have companies with infinite resources make products out of ideas and concepts that have been researched and prototyped for decades by public institutions as well as the private sector is not innovation.

    String enough evolutions together and you get a revolution. Like the Wiimote, which put Bluetooth-enabled accelerometers and infrared cameras into a small handheld device at a price that anyone can afford, this Kinect camera device has the potential to seriously change how the do-it-yourself community interacts with their computers. Think of all the new applications the open source community came up with for the Wiimote, many of which were featured here on /.; now imagine what they'll be able to come up with for this device.

    I can't wait to see what comes around when someone builds usable open drivers for this baby. I don't own a 360, but the prospect of plugging this into my computer or HTPC and getting voice controls, facial recognition, and arbitrary movement recognition for use as input are giving me chills. I mean, just look at what you get for $150 []: two cameras, an IR projector, four microphones, all mounted on a motorized base with hardware/software that can generate a 3D image in approximately realtime. I can't wait to be able to sign my name in midair to use as my password.

    "Computer, open Firefox; website:"

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 05, 2010 @04:12AM (#34133644)

    Linus Torvalds places value in a well executed implementation. Isn't there value in producing a very well implemented product?

  • by middenview (517699) on Friday November 05, 2010 @04:23AM (#34133676)
    It was the spooky aspects that got me first. Apart from mobile 'phones, what better way to hide a sophisticated eavesdropping device in plain sight.
  • by ThirdPrize (938147) on Friday November 05, 2010 @05:30AM (#34133864) Homepage

    I am sorry, but it's people like you who totally miss the point of Kinect. You probably bitched about Macs when they first came out because using a mouse would never be as fast as your DOS typing speed.

    It is a control-less controller. You don't have to hold any wands, press any buttons or do anything like that. They have finally made it possible. V1 probably isn't perfect, as these things never are. However give it a couple of years, the price/size will get smaller and eventually they will start building things like this into TVs and monitors. Now imagine lying on the sofa flicking through the TVs EPG as it knows, relative to your head, what part of the screen your finger is on. That is the future.

  • by Shivetya (243324) on Friday November 05, 2010 @06:12AM (#34133958) Homepage Journal

    like how the ease of use of the Wii did (well once they fixed that damned controller). The difference is, with the Wii you can "game" it. As in, half the time the motions you make with the controller really don't have any bearing on what your avatar is doing. What I have see of kinect is that we finally have a system which does what you physically do. None of the "interpretation" like the Wii controller .

    It will probably open up gaming to more people now. I can see great uses in exercise programs here, your own personal trainer who really does know if your doing it right. Think of the ability to extend this to at home rehabilitation! That alone makes this device a break through.

    Many of us keep lamenting all those wonder sci fi depictions of what computer technology can do and when its delivered some simply dismiss it because its from Microsoft.

    It is a good start. Perhaps it will give other people the inspiration to help us make a real leap.

  • by Nuskrad (740518) on Friday November 05, 2010 @06:31AM (#34134022)
    Have you actually read the Kotaku or Cnet reviews? Cnet calls it 'the most fun you can have with your hands free' []. Kotaku, while acknowledging there are a number of flaws, says that it 'can be revolutionary' []. I wouldn't exactly say either of these reviews are 'trashing' the Kinect.
  • Re:cost cutting (Score:3, Interesting)

    by cynyr (703126) on Friday November 05, 2010 @07:50AM (#34134282)

    not if adafruit has their way, Lots of these will end up in robots and such. even better if i can get a few below cost. Microsoft has already said that they are "against anyone tampering with their products" Ohh well I sure hope they know better than to sell at a loss... []

  • by Kartu (1490911) on Friday November 05, 2010 @08:04AM (#34134340)

    "Not having to press" something is nice, but what if I actually want to fire an action by hardly noticeable movement of the finger? I guess I can't do it with Kinect as it's too subtle a movement to reliably detect.

    Why is lack of buttons considered to be a step forward?

  • by ThirdPrize (938147) on Friday November 05, 2010 @08:14AM (#34134398) Homepage

    It was never designed for playing "COD Black OPs" was it? Most iPhone games wouldn't work with a joypad either. They will just find some other way of doing things. The trouble with the XBOX fraternity is its so hung up on shooters, in a way the WIii crowd wasn't.

  • by Nerdfest (867930) on Friday November 05, 2010 @09:40AM (#34135112)
    I watched the MS video demo of this being used to control the xbox dashboard and wasn't impressed. What turned me off was that they don't seem top have a 'click' or selection move, instead using hover delays to select things. Maybe they just didn't have time to implement it properly, but it really needs the ability to click something, whether by pushing your hand forward or something else. More than anything else, this is stopping me from picking one up right now.
  • Re:do not want (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Donoman (1935304) on Friday November 05, 2010 @10:12AM (#34135476)
    It's not some religious thing. Fer reals, Microsoft makes shitty software. And on top of that, it has yet to invent something a competitor didn't do first. DOS... Zune... Windows... It's all "borrowed".
  • by sheehaje (240093) on Friday November 05, 2010 @10:14AM (#34135512)

    The camera's aside, the concept/innovation isn't the hardware, but how it recognises a person as an individual. My memory is a bit fuzzy, but I did read a few articles on Project Natal/Kinect, and the major hurdle wasn't the 3D camera, the voice recognition, etc. It was putting it all together to recognise not only movement, but who a person is by many distinct factors, and following that person throughout the experience.

    That to me is major innovation alone. I remember the EyeToy, and used one. This is not that. Maybe the EyeToy is a subset of this, as is a bunch of technology. The innovation of the Kinect is putting all this technology together in one package and getting it to work as a unified device.

    I'm not totally sold this will be a great device for the Xbox, but this is the first thing I've seen in a long time that has really made me see a real shift in the way we interact with computers. The Wimote and the Sony move systems are really still tying people to a controller. In other words, this is the first device I've seen that really reaches out to the user, not the other way around. Even the EyeToy didn't do that.

    I don't mean to sound like a Microsoft shrill in anyway. If Sony did this, or Apple, I would be just as curious, and hopeful. I just think the way they tied the technology together, and the way in which they plan to use it and have it interact is way too cool to dismiss as just another gimmick.

"It is better to have tried and failed than to have failed to try, but the result's the same." - Mike Dennison