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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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  • cost cutting (Score:3, Insightful)

    by flyingfsck (986395) on Friday November 05, 2010 @01:53AM (#34133188)
    So MS can reduce the cost of the device in version 2 by dropping half the sensors?
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by jrobot (1239050)

      really?

      Microsoft can sell these at a loss and make it back with game sales.
      kinect version 2 will likely include MORE sensors what with M$ buying Canesta http://canesta.com/ [canesta.com]
      who build time-of-flight optical depth sensors...

      anyone have specs on microsoft's IR CMOS sensor in this thing?
      TFA lists X853750001 / VCA379C7130

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by cynyr (703126)

        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...

        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/ [adafruit.com]

        • by sznupi (719324)

          The processing of data from Kinect apparently happens on the X360 - I'm not sure how it would give anything better than 1-3 (depending on how much of the functionality you want to recreate in your own software) inexpensive webcams. Unless one cares about looks or quite limited range of tilt...

        • by tibit (1762298)

          Tampering? LOL. I bought it, I own it, it is a physical product. For all I care they deserve a middle finger for even suggesting that what I do with their kinect box would be tampering.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by StikyPad (445176)

      You seem to be confused. Sony is the mfr. that removes features to lower costs. MS removes your ability to access software-driven features like multiplayer, Facebook, and Netflix unless you pay for a subscription. True, this is a bit like arguing over who's the fattest kid at fat camp, but there it is.

  • by LingNoi (1066278) on Friday November 05, 2010 @02:13AM (#34133290)

    I can't believe the summary didn't mention the $2000 bounty reward for making an open source driver.

    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/ [adafruit.com]

  • Ask iFixit anything (Score:5, Informative)

    by kwiens (604321) on Friday November 05, 2010 @02:24AM (#34133328) Homepage

    I started iFixit, and I wrote today's teardown. I'm also a long-time /. member.

    I totally dig the anti-Microsoft sentiment. But just like with the iPad, we've got real innovation here that came out of a closed environment. Microsoft's got hundreds of millions of dollars invested in visual motion recognition and speech recognition technology. The best reaction all of us in the open source community can have is to use this innovation as a call to action, and as building a block to write open tools. Adafruit's contest is a fantastic start, and I'll be supporting that any way I can.

    Got any questions about the hardware that I didn't address in the teardown? Fire away.

    Kyle Wiens

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      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.

      • 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 [ifixit.net]: 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: slashdot.org."

        • 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.
      • by Anonymous Coward

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

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

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

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by xtracto (837672)

      Ow man... you should go to Reddit instead.

      It is really boring to see how in slashdot the only comments and snarky questions you will see will be to criticize the technology.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by ledow (319597)

      Not a single mention of the number of pre-orders, so it's a worthless piece of information ("Both units pre-ordered" becomes "ALL OUR PREORDERS SOLD OUT AND STILL PEOPLE ASK FOR MORE!").

      Also, there hasn't been a product in the video games industry in the last 20 years that didn't "sell out" at launch. It's completely arbitrary. It all depends on how many you produce and/or how many you decide to "let" people pre-order, nothing else. They estimate they'll sell 3 million - is that good or bad? I have no i

  • Poor engineers (Score:5, Insightful)

    by GF678 (1453005) on Friday November 05, 2010 @02:49AM (#34133418)

    I'd hate to have been an engineer working on this thing. Putting all your heart and soul into the R&D trying to make something novel, interesting and cutting-edge, and all you get in response is hate.

    Not that I'm defending the product or Microsoft. Theory is nice but if the physical product sucks then it sucks, but it's kinda obvious why companies are afraid to try something different.

    • by Kenja (541830)
      Trying something different is OK, succeeding would have been better.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Cylix (55374) *

      You don't have to defend or defame the product until you have tried it.

      I'm waiting for a billion reviews to see if it's something worth acquiring. My main problem with the kinect is the use videos are all microsoft released and they have a lousy track record for being honest about their products. Point in case was the virtual friend for xbox 360/kinect demo. Completely scripted and a total wash, but it was later defended as a "what if" video and not a technology demo.

      While they never solicited public feedba

    • Re:Poor engineers (Score:4, Insightful)

      by NixieBunny (859050) on Friday November 05, 2010 @03:17AM (#34133508) Homepage
      Think of this product as something similar to the DARPA autonomous-vehicle race series: the first one was a total failure, and the second one produced spectacular results.

      They can continuously improve the firmware to make it quite a usable product. This stuff takes many iterations, and the more units out there, the more feedback you get.
    • I'd hate to have been an engineer working on this thing. Putting all your heart and soul into the R&D trying to make something novel, interesting and cutting-edge, and all you get in response is hate.

      I know what you mean -- senior management makes me miserable too.

  • 3d webcam (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Khyber (864651) <techkitsune@gmail.com> on Friday November 05, 2010 @03:20AM (#34133520) Homepage Journal

    If Microsoft whips out the ability to use this as a 3D webcam with my PC, I'd buy it in a heartbeat. Screw the 360, I want this for my computer.

  • 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.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by middenview (517699)
      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.
      • Disconnected from the power it becomes a very useless eavesdropping device.

        Apart from mobile phones though I would thing any webcam would be better. Many households already have them (pretty much all lalptops/netbooks/notebooks/ipads) and provided you have access to the system you can record any and all conversation and video and have it delivered to a web location of your choosing.

  • by miffo.swe (547642) <daniel,hedblom&gmail,com> 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.

  • I have a very basic understanding of how the system works. IR beam gets sent out and the CMOS sensor picks up the pattern and interprets the z axis information.

    I would imagine that there are inherent problems with this. If the pattern is too spaced out then resolution suffers. If the pattern is too close together then there are many errors. The processing must be complicated. I bet even the type of clothing you're wearing has an effect on it.

    • by tgd (2822)

      There's lots of articles that talk about it in detail.

      The resolution of the grid is a key factor in how positionally accurate the 3-D skeletal model ends up being -- which is why it can't see what your fingers are doing, but can position you pretty accurately.

      The same technique in two years when processing power is 4x will allow the hardware to be revved with even more resolution.

      You need to keep in mind this is a device sold for a profit at $150 retail that has a webcam, a depth camera, a matrix microphone

  • It's helluva fun when you get the hang of it!

  • What about Microsoft's PC gaming revival initiative? Is it dead already?

    It would be actually quite interesting to see Kinect used with PC. Could result in many cool projects outside gaming.

  • If that amount of cameras detect having the blue sky of panic it will kill your player.

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