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08.08.10

Microsoft’s KINect is the next KIN-Like Disaster (and Why Kinect Patents Are All That’s Left)

Posted in Hardware, Microsoft, Patents at 7:19 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Zune logo in black

Summary: From the upcoming product tactlessly named “Kinect” (formerly “Natal”) come some patents but a terrible demo and little promise

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ARLIER today we had a discussion that also touched on KINect, which another new survey claims to be overly expensive. It is an overpriced (and over-marketed) piece of of junk which is disliked by many in the media before it’s even launched. The headline from Geek.com says “Kinect played by half-naked Asian babes still looks rubbish” and it concludes as follows: “Is Kinect a disaster waiting to happen? All the evidence points to this being a complete dodo for Microsoft.” We saw some other rants about it last week.

“Kinect demo leaves Microsoft red-faced,” says another report and there is “Kinect Demo Goes Horribly Wrong” — an article which states:

Events like these don’t inspire much confidence in Microsoft’s new motion control device. As you can see in the video above, the company believed it wise to hire a couple attractive models to showcase how playing with Kinect would somehow inspire attractive models to come to your house and jog in place. Or something… To be honest, I’m not really sure why the pretty ladies were asked to demo the peripheral, but it likely has something to do with the fact that boobs = attention so the more you can have showcasing your hardware the more attention you’ll get. Turns out, what actually happens is a hot mess.

[...]

Videos like these do very little to instill confidence in Kinect, and it makes us wonder just how much the carefully staged E3 demos will differ from the actual Kinect experience. The E3 Dance Central demos were conducted in a special area with all the sensors and dancers facing just so. Furthermore, all of Microsoft’s first-party demos were in hermetically sealed chambers to make sure nothing went wrong.

Truth be told, the mangers of such projects have left the company. They named “Kinect” (or “Natal”) as something that might actually succeed, but it doesn’t look like it. “Microsoft Kinect demo grinds to a halt in Hong Kong,” says another report:

Microsoft’s upcoming motion-controlled gaming peripheral, Kinect, has bombed at a Hong Kong animation festival, freezing mid game as two models attempted to demonstrate the much hyped accessory.

The Microsoft boosters don’t pay attention to the facts, so they dare dream that it will become a “$1 billion dollar business” (a controller? Really?). The only thing which surely comes out of this piece of hardware is patents, one of which got some press coverage, including:

As we saw earlier today, Microsoft uses patents aggressively. Its only possible excuse is that it too sometimes gets attacked by the likes of Uniloc [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6], which in turn attacks Microsoft rivals (having received money from Microsoft). The Australian press has some more news coverage about it:

Ric Richardson, the “man in a van” battling Microsoft in a patent suit worth hundreds of millions of dollars, is now taking the fight to tech giants including Sony and McAfee.

The Australian inventor whose company, Uniloc, was awarded $US388 million in a patent infringement case against Microsoft, only to have the jury decision overturned by a judge, says his patent has withstood legal scrutiny and now the rest of the tech industry must pay up.

Several days ago his PR ‘front end’ tried contacting us to arrange an interview/chat with the manager. They probably mass-mailed it to many people, so in the interests of showing how this patent parasite operates, here is the mail

Good afternoon. I saw your article on Techrights entitled “Apple’s and Microsoft’s Robbery of Knowledge Using Patents, i4i Case Might Reach SCOTUS” and found it extremely interesting. As you know, Sony Corporation, McAfee, Activision, Quark and two other companies have been sued by Uniloc USA for patent infringement. The suits stem from a massive case against Microsoft (in which Uniloc initially won $388 million in damages – the 5th largest award for Software infringement ever) and the suit is remarkable because of its potential reach: the technology in question became so popular as to be virtually ubiquitous today. The case against Microsoft is currently on appeal.

The lawsuit mentioned below follows closely on the heels of a wave of other suits by small businesses against goliaths (including two filed last month – Ebay was sued for $3.8 billion by XPRT and Apple, Google, Microsoft and others were sued by NTP, as you know, over patented smartphone technology), indicating small businesses are becoming more aggressive in fighting for their intellectual property rights.

By way of background, in 1992 software companies were losing billions to casual software copying. Uniloc was the first to combine the concept of product key and Hardware ID, and using both they created an airtight registration system (before this invention, most software relied on just a product key that Tom, Dick and Harry could take to college, give to their girlfriends and before you know it – millions of dollars in lost sales). For the first time, Uniloc’s invention locked software to a specific computer, making this casual copying next to impossible.

After patenting the invention in the early 90s, Uniloc commercialized the product through a licensing deal with IBM, and then began talks with Microsoft. Microsoft signed a non-disclosure agreement to not reverse engineer the product. But, as Microsoft’s own internal documents show – that’s exactly what they did, then used the software in Windows XP. Microsoft is a bellwether for significant trends in the software publishing industry, many other companies – including the ones named in the lawsuit – observed their success and took the information that Microsoft had made public to pursue or develop their own software activation systems.

Please let me know if you would like to speak with Brad Davis, CEO of Uniloc USA; I’d be happy to coordinate a conversation.

Thank you for your consideration.

Uniloc does not want it to be known that it’s just a parasite, so it is trying to control the message. Techrights does not sympathise with Uniloc at all. In fact, the flood of abusers in this system is only ever helpful when calls are made to reform the system and get rid of the likes of Uniloc (a symptom of a disease). Check out this new article:

Law360 Calls Lawyer-Owned Shell Company a “Public Interest Group”

Our competitors are never afraid to call a spade… a public interest group.

Law360 seems to have a pretty flexible definition of that term. Last month, it included Americans for Fair Patent Use. Who is so concerned about such fairness? That would be F&B LLP, the Texas law firm that owns Americans for Fair Patent Use, which is a limited liability company set up to prosecute a false marking lawsuit filed in East Texas on July 14. The suit, against Apple, Sprint, Samsung, and Verizon, alleges that various smartphones made by those companies have false patent marks.

What a dysfunctional system. And what a bunch of unethical players.

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