Open Innovation and Hacking the Microsoft Kinect

Open Innovation and Hacking the Microsoft KinectI think this is a must-look-into case for everyone with a serious interest in open innovation. Why? Because this case has several dilemmas related to threats as well as opportunities that we need to consider when we engage with open innovation.

The story:

As you can read in this BBC story, Microsoft’s Kinect has been hacked only a few days after it officially went on sale. Here are few snippets from the article:

Code to control the motion-capture device has been produced that allows it to be used with a PC rather than the Xbox game console.

Microsoft has said it was not happy with the unofficial modifications made to the gadget’s control system. It added: “We strongly encourage customers to use Kinect for Xbox 360 with their Xbox 360 to get the best experience possible.”

The attempt to hack the control system for the Kinect gadget was kick-started by electronics kit maker Adafruit. On 4 November it announced it would pay $1,000 (£624) to the first person to produce control software, known as drivers, for the Kinect.

A second open source Kinect contest has now also started, sponsored by Google engineer Matt Cutts. He will give $1,000 to whoever produces what he considers the coolest open source Kinect project. A separate $1,000 prize will be given to the team creating tools that make it easy to use Kinect on Linux.

What’s next:

What is happening here is a great example on how lead-users can take products and services into a new direction and perhaps help create new business opportunities.

Furthermore, we witness how people and companies not related to the original producer start crowd-sourcing initiatives in order to innovate beyond the original scope. In short, this highlights many open innovation related opportunities.

Microsoft appears to have taken a strong defensive stance on this. They might have good reason to do so, but should they not also look into how lead-users can help expand the use of the Kinect device? Microsoft could be on to something big with this. Will they seize the opportunity?

I think this is a great case, which raises many more questions that those I just asked.

Let me know what you think.

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Stegan LindegaardStefan Lindegaard is a speaker, network facilitator and strategic advisor who focus on the topics of open innovation, intrapreneurship and how to identify and develop the people who drive innovation.

Stefan Lindegaard




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No Comments

  1. Tom on November 28, 2010 at 3:56 pm

    I agree. It’s interesting to watch this unfold – the best analogy for the situation that I’m aware of is Apple’s release of the iPhone. Apple watched its early adopters jailbreak the phone quickly after launch in 2007 and adapted its strategy accordingly – at the time of launch it had no intention of launching developer toolkits etc. or as comprehensive an app store.

    Apple did a great job of reacting to what it saw and working with the hackers – it created the app store the following year – I think that there are now over 300k apps available for download. Apple takes c30% cut on each download and profits from the integrated channel & platform.

    So, if Microsoft continues its protectionism it may just miss out on one of the best opportunities that it’s had for a long time – hackers wanting to adapt its hardware is a complement!


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