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Microsoft Input Devices Open Source XBox (Games) Games

$2,000 Bounty For Open Source Xbox Kinect Drivers 274

ptorrone writes "Open source hardware company Adafruit Industries is offering a $2,000 bounty for the first person or group to upload driver code and examples under an open source license to GitHub for the Xbox Kinect released yesterday. The Kinect sensor outputs video at a frame rate of 30Hz, with the RGB video stream at 32-bit color VGA resolution (640×480 pixels), and the monochrome video stream used for depth sensing at 16-bit QVGA resolution (320×240 pixels with 65,536 levels of sensitivity). The open hardware group would like to see this camera used for education, robotics and fun outside the Xbox." The bounty was originally $1,000, but Microsoft's dour response induced Adafruit to double it. ("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.") In addition, the Xbox 360 dashboard update that preceded Kinect's launch contains upgraded anti-piracy restrictions.
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$2,000 Bounty For Open Source Xbox Kinect Drivers

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  • Kinect for Robotics (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 05, 2010 @01:49PM (#34139020)

    This would actually be excellent for robotics! Those specs are about on par with Point Grey's Bumblebee2 stereoscopic camera (the cheapest standalone stereoscopic camera for robotics), which retails at about $3,000! It would be great to be able to make cheap robots with that kind of stereoscopic imaging power.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 05, 2010 @02:11PM (#34139372)

    Microsoft profits on every sensor sold. www.gamesmantra.com/kinect-will-be-profitable-from-launch.htm

  • by kimvette ( 919543 ) on Friday November 05, 2010 @02:14PM (#34139410) Homepage Journal


    Reverse engineering (section 1201(f)). This exception permits
    circumvention, and the development of technological means for such
    circumvention, by a person who has lawfully obtained a right to use a
    copy of a computer program for the sole purpose of identifying and
    analyzing elements of the program necessary to achieve interoperability
    with other programs, to the extent that such acts are permitted under
    copyright law.

    Source: http://www.copyright.gov/legislation/dmca.pdf [copyright.gov]

  • by mikael_j ( 106439 ) on Friday November 05, 2010 @02:21PM (#34139492)

    The BIOS wasn't, it was reverse engineered by clone makers.

  • Re:law enforcement (Score:5, Informative)

    by spire3661 ( 1038968 ) on Friday November 05, 2010 @02:23PM (#34139520) Journal
    MPEGLA would beg to differ. They can and DO dictate what is done with hardware after the sale. Even when the buying party has no formal contract with MPEGLA, they can restrict whatever you film with your equipment that you bought. Its wrong, it should be illegal, but so far they have been successful in cowing people.
  • by BlueRaja ( 1397333 ) on Friday November 05, 2010 @02:24PM (#34139544)
    What Microsoft said was they are "confident that every unit of Kinect sold to gamers will generate profit." That doesn't mean they are making a profit on each unit.
  • by coniferous ( 1058330 ) on Friday November 05, 2010 @02:31PM (#34139672) Homepage
    Not true at all. Look at the hardware spesification sheets... An arm processor and 512 megs of ram? Thats more then just a webcam and a couple of mics. There is some serious potential for having a hardware device that does some onboard processing.
  • by wagnerrp ( 1305589 ) on Friday November 05, 2010 @02:36PM (#34139760)

    Back in June, a 'trusted source' reported that the Kinect cost $150 to manufacture. It seems they're selling at cost, with no profit per unit.

    http://www.develop-online.net/news/35198/Source-pins-Kinect-manufacturing-costs-to-150 [develop-online.net]

  • by Archangel Michael ( 180766 ) on Friday November 05, 2010 @03:12PM (#34140248) Journal

    Reverse Engineering is fairly simple. It takes TWO teams completely separated and isolated from each other.

    Team one examines system, and describes all aspects (results) they can, without describing the mechanism for achieving those results.

    Team two takes the results and engineers a system that mimics all aspects described by team one.

    Whatever mechanisms team two creates to achieve are "reversed engineered". One cannot reverse engineer something that is patented, because the patent is supposed to describe the mechanisms. However Trade Secrets can be reversed engineered.

    However, in a sufficiently complex mechanism, all one needs to do is patent a key middle piece of the mechanism, so that even if you can reverse engineer the whole thing, you are still unable to create a marketable variation, without licensing / buying the key component. The easiest away around this is to patent another key piece after you reverse engineer it. But then things like "prior art" take effect, and so on.

    Reverse Engineering is easy to describe, but difficult to achieve. And reverse engineering a product of a litigious company is fraught with other perils. Doing so as a "bounty" for "open source" version is incredibly brilliant way around. No assets of a big company to go after, no way to stop it without looking like a complete and utter asshat, and even if you successfully sue whomever you can, the result is out in the open, much like DeCSS is. Once the cat is out of the bag, it is extremely difficult to put it back in.

  • by sznupi ( 719324 ) on Friday November 05, 2010 @03:13PM (#34140268) Homepage

    MS said they dropped doing the heavy processing on Kinect itself... 1 [gamesindustry.biz], 2 [newscientist.com], 3 [gamesindustry.biz]. What's left does at best "entry stages" of processing, which don't give you much... (especially since MS certainly keeps the juicy details of their approach secret, an approach to which entry stages are adapted).

    512 megabytes of ram would sound big, yes, so I just checked - it's 512 megabits. Nothing too unexpected for a device dealing with lots of images.

    And as I mentioned, the flash is 1 MiB; certainly nothing more than basic firmware.

  • by BLKMGK ( 34057 ) <morejunk4me@hotma i l .com> on Friday November 05, 2010 @04:06PM (#34141078) Homepage Journal

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clean_room_design#Examples [wikipedia.org]

    Not so fast, you might want to read up on a bit of history.

  • by Bigjeff5 ( 1143585 ) on Friday November 05, 2010 @08:29PM (#34143748)

    Basically, if the end result is that you can copy something you couldn't copy before, it's probably illegal.

    Otherwise, go for it.

  • by yeshuawatso ( 1774190 ) on Friday November 05, 2010 @08:49PM (#34143994) Journal

    Yes and no. The wii is seen as an hid device for the most part, but there are parts of it that don't work properly. For instance, the speaker on the wiimote can play 11Khz pcm audio when used by the wii, but can only play a single frequency at a time when used in conjunction with any other device. The power button also doesn't register any signals over Bluetooth either. So it's not just a simple hid profile, but just part of standards and part proprietary.

    The ps3 controllers on the other hand do require drivers to work properly. Drivers were made by a Chinese company and Sony didn't lose their cool and threaten legal action for developing and/or using the controller with the pc. This would be the relevant comparison you were looking for.

  • by westlake ( 615356 ) on Friday November 05, 2010 @08:50PM (#34144014)

    Whatever happened to people selling devices to other people, so they could use them as they see fit?

    The HPC cluster that took 1,000 PS3s off retail shelves was of no benefit to Sony and a nail in the coffin for the OtherOS.

    As mentioned in an earlier post, the cheapest 3D robotic imaging system with capabilities similar to Kinect lists for $3000. The $150 Kinect is sold as a video game accessory - and it needs video game sales and rentals to be profitable.

    The geek who expects the mega corp to subsidize his high-tech hobbies is naive.

    No profit means no product - and everyone loses.

    The second problem is that on-line gaming and other services demand a level playing field.

    No cheating allowed.

    Show up at the ball park with a tricked-up ball or bat and you risk being banned from league play. The simplest way to avoid this kind of mischief has always been to set standards which begin with the hardware manufacturer.

    Regulation ball. Regulation bat. No excuses. No exceptions.

"The pathology is to want control, not that you ever get it, because of course you never do." -- Gregory Bateson