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Hacker unshackles Kinect from Xbox

Microsoft not amused

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An amateur hacker claims to have freed Microsoft's Kinect from the Xbox, a feat that allows him to control the the just-released motion-tracking game device from his Windows PC.

The claim was documented in two videos released over the weekend by a member of the Natural User Interface Group. In one, Kinect's motorized-tilt is shown being controlled with the moveup and movedown buttons of his Windows 7 PC. Normally, the movements can only be tracked when Kinect is connected to an Xbox 360 game console.

A second video shows the Kinect outputting color and depth data to the hacker's PC.

By themselves, the videos don't prove that the Kinect has been completely rooted, but they suggest that the NUI Group member AlexP is well on his way. The videos surfaced a few days after Adafruit Industries, a seller of DIY electronics kits, offered a $2,000 bounty to the first person who published open-source drivers for the Kinect.

The company's website has yet to say whether the hack satisfies the requirements. But according to Engadget, AlexP wasn't motivated by the Adafruit contest anyway. Instead, he hopes to integrate it into his company's CL Studio Live.

Microsoft is none too amused by the tinkering of a device that it has spent years to ensure isn't easily tampered with. On Thursday, shortly after Adafruit offered a paltry $1,000 for the hack, a Redmond spokesman told CNET that the company would “continue to make advances in these types of safeguards and work closely with law enforcement and product safety groups to keep Kinect tamper-resistant.” Adafruit responded by upping the reward to $2,000.

Users may recall the the US Copyright Office's Librarian of Congress earlier this year exempted the jailbreaking of smartphones from the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. The exception applies only to anti-circumvention prohibitions included in the statute, but Microsoft may have other provisions at its disposal.

AlexP has successfully removed digital shackles from other heavily locked-down hardware, hacking the PlayStation Eye in 2008, according to Engadget. ®

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