Kinect Under the Covers

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Microsoft's new hands-free Kinect game controller is packed with four microphones, two cameras, and a motion detector chip that together make for one heck of a complex toy, according to iFixit's initial teardown of the device.

"We haven't been this excited to get our hands on new hardware since the iPad," says Kyle Wiens, CEO of the company. "The way that we interact with computers is (finally) evolving, and Kinect is unlike any hardware we've ever taken apart. In fact, the only thing we've ever taken apart that has anywhere close to this many sensors is Pleo, the dinosaur robot."

(iFixit didn't get into any of the Kinect racism claims raised on Thursday related to the possibility of the gaming system not recognizing people with darker skin -- and debunked by Consumer Reports.)

iFixit describes Kinect as "a horizontal bar of sensors connected to a small, motorized pivoting base." The $150 device that Microsoft put hundreds of millions of dollars of research into can be purchased separately from the Xbox 360 or as part of a bundle.

Once inside the box, iFixit eyed four microphones, an infrared transmitting diode, a three-axis accelerometer and a couple of CMOS cameras. The iFixit investigators weren't blown away by the robustness of Kinect's motor and gears.

A Prime Sense PS1080-A2 is at the heart of Kinect's motion detection capabilities, as it connects to all of Kinect's sensors and processes images of your game room's color and scope before shooting them over to the Xbox.

iFixit couldn't immediately identify all of the chips within the box, so plans to update its teardown.

Wiens says "Kinect is first generation hardware. As usual for a first revision, it is mechanically quite complex. We were surprised at the number of thermal sensors and large, sturdy power connectors. Kinect was clearly designed by a team accustomed to designing large hardware like the Xbox."

We're not sure that's what either Oprah Winfrey or Ellen Degeneres took away from demos on their shows last month.

Also see a video of celebs giving Kinect a whirl

iFixit gives Kinect a six out of ten for repairability, noting that its components are modular and easy to replace.

Kinect with Bob Brown on Twitter at

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This story, "Kinect Under the Covers" was originally published by Network World.

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