Hack Our Kinect, Please!
Hullo, kids. I know I haven’t posted in awhile, but I’ve been busy. Most recently busy wrestling with the Dragon Age II demo, but that is no excuse.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Microsoft has decided to embrace hackers rather than lock them out and bury jailbreak codes. Microsoft is proving itself to be way more awesome than Sony by releasing a developer toolkit for the Kinect.
The toolkit is Microsoft’s effort to jump in front of a parade of programmers that have already cobbled together their own software, without Microsoft’s permission, to make Kinect applications for PCs. A lot of these programmers have posted videos of their Kinect hacks online, including someone who transforms a stick in his hands into a Star Wars-like light saber and another person who controls an animal using hand-puppet gestures.
Microsoft executives announced their plan at a meeting with a small group of press at the company’s Redmond, Wash., campus intended to showcase interesting technologies it’s cooking up its research labs. Craig Mundie, Microsoft’s chief strategy and research officer, said Microsoft wants to enable Kinect developers to create more and better applications using the company’s toolkit, including in fields like physical therapy.
“We think we’ll see a huge explosion in interest,” Mundie said. “We’ll welcome that and support it.”
This is friggin’ brilliant. This is the absolute smartest thing that a game company can do today, if you ask me. Embracing your tech saavy consumers and encouraging them to tinker with the technology is a good thing. More people are going to buy and use the Xbox and Kinect to play with and make their own games, so it’s good marketing. Beyond that, Microsoft can profit from it.
Still, the company won’t say yet whether or how it plans to make money directly from Kinect applications for the PC. The initial toolkit will be aimed at “academics and enthusiasts” who want to program Kinect, with a version of the toolkit aimed at commercial applications to be released at some point in the future. Mattrick declined to say whether it will charge Kinect programmers for the PC a royalty for commercial products.
Start taking notes, Sony. I’ve said before you can’t ignore hackers and pirates or scare them into submission. You can adapt your own technology to compete with them, or embrace them and get them to turn a profit for you.