Within a few days of its launch, some ingenious programmers had already started to discover all sorts of interesting ways to use Microsoft's Kinect peripheral with a PC. However, the company was pretty quick to condemn such actions, and even suggested that it might work with law-enforcement agencies against anyone who tried to hack the device.
It looks like the software-giant might be taking a bit more of a relaxed tone, though. Speaking to NPR (with the comments repeated on Twitter) in the US, Kinect chief Alex Kipman explained that the peripheral had actually been left unprotected "by design" and that as far as the manufacturer was concerned, it hadn't actually been hacked.
As he explained it, the hardware and software were still intact and there was no way in which these developments were affecting how the peripheral might be used with an Xbox. So this wasn't a hack, but just some programmers making use of the sensor's eyes and ears by writing a PC driver.
Kipman also confirmed that Microsoft wouldn't be trying to shut the open-source projects down. In fact, he even mentioned that the software-giant would be working with academic institutions to distribute the hardware for research purposes, and that a handful of universities had been carrying out this kind of work prior to release.
The news is obviously good for anyone who wants to toy around with their Kinect without risking a run-in with Microsoft's lawyers. However, it also means that developers are more likely to have the opportunity to come up with some really exciting uses for the hardware. It's even possible that Microsoft could offer some support to the community or release an SDK at some point in the future.