Kinect Hacks, Microsoft, And Consumer Experimentation

So how many ways can people do bizarre and unusual things with the Kinect?

The Kinect seems to be getting hacked left and right.  Yet, it seems beyond some of the pornographic elements, Microsoft is saying very little about this.  This leads me to two conclusions I'd like to discuss.

(And, yes I could joke about a Microsoft product being hacked, but that's serious low-hanging humor fruit).

Conclusion #1: Microsoft Wants This.
The Kinect seems to be incredibly adaptable and hackable.  Microsoft seems delighted (except for the occasional venture into porn) and obviously wants this:

  1. First, it's great publicity.  Sure there's assorted embarrassing things that almost always seem to involve breasts – but that's still attention-getting.  Mostly Kinect hacks seem to be people having fun.  That keeps Kinect in people's minds in a good way.
  2. Secondly, its the world as research lab.  Microsoft clearly has plans for the Kinect, and I frankly think it's more a prototype for future technology.  All of these experiments give Microsoft new ideas.
  3. Third, its good for reputation.  I'm not sure Microsoft has thought of this, but I think associating their name with fun and oddball experimentation is better than the mixed reputation they do have.

I think we're going to see a lot of "children of Kinect" in the years to come.  The world is already getting used to motion control, the hacks are informative, and it builds goodwill for Microsoft to just sit there and let the fun happen.

Conclusion #2: This Validates Consumer Experimentation
It seems that there's always some terrible fear among many companies, media producers, and so on that people are somehow using their products differently.  Of course as we all know hacks of various kind happen and you can't stop them.  This truth is usually lost on many people who make decisions in many industries.

I consider Consumer Experimentation not only unstoppable, but entirely acceptable and a good idea.  Consumer Experimentation keeps people involved, builds goodwill, and of course provides lots of neat things to adapt and learn from.  I think media holders and companies need to accept this – and realize there are benefits.

The whole Kinect-hack fiesta has pretty much validated the power of consumer participation just for the sheer amount of work and goodwill produced.  Maybe Microsoft got lucky, maybe they looked at social media and saw the value of participation, but either way they hit the ball out of the park with this one.

Think of it as Fanfic for Kinnect.  In fact, you could probably use this as an argument for the value of fanfic if you want to blow a few minds.

So there you go, my two takes on what we have learned from the Kinect.  Let me know your thoughts.

And, yes, I might just get one now.  I'd like to be Ultraman.

Steven Savage