Xbox 360 Kinect open source hack prize offered at $2,000

The Adafruit Industries website has publicly launched a new open source engineering project with a $2,000 cash reward up for grabs. Coders need to hack the newly released Microsoft Kinect game platform, with the “X prize” going to the best open source drivers for the Kinect.

As part of the program, the drivers and/or application must be able to run using any OS, and has to adhere to the open source license. To claim the cash bounty, contest organizers also want “an application with one ‘window’ showing video (640 x 480) and one window showing depth.”

Here is the technology coders will look to utilize:

Xbox 360 Kinect open source hack prize offered at ,000

An open source version of the Kinect could be used by educators, researchers and fun projects away from the Xbox 360. It’s not clear what Microsoft’s stance will be on this project, however, it’s likely that they won’t condone it.

Full contest rules and details can be found here.

Microsoft has not taken kindly — and legal action isn’t out of the question — to coders modifying its proprietary software. Instead of discouraging this type of behavior, I think Microsoft and other tech companies should embrace such interaction with the community. Learn and utilize the community’s ideas to make the Kinect platform even better, especially if this activity will be happening anyway.

Organizers and hacking groups love when they get under the skin of companies like Microsoft, and a negative response from the tech giant may only add fuel to the fire. It’s no surprise that Microsoft wants to control where its Kinect platform ends up — and I’m sure they’ll want full control over a possible Windows version that could be released in the future.

Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo all want to try to combat illegal mods and cracks from being used — and Sony is the company that has had to deal with a recent wave of jailbreaks and cracks, which they have fought back against with legal actions and firmware updates.

I look forward to seeing what develops from this Kinect contest. It will also be quite interesting to see if Microsoft tries to put a halt to it.