Microsoft Loses a Top Kinect Researcher to Google

Microsoft Research’s Johnny Chung Lee, a core contributor to Microsoft’s Kinect, the highly successful gaming sensor, has joined Google to work on a special project.

Lee’s departure was first reported by ZDNet’s Mary Jo Foley, who discovered the update on Lee’s Web page, where his title is listed as “Rapid Evaluator” for Google.

In a Jan. 18 blog post, Lee had very little to say about his new position, and spent most of his time praising his former babies, the Xbox and Kinect: “I look forward to seeing all the creative and unexpected ways that game developers will use the data from the camera to create fun experiences. The Xbox is exceptionally well positioned to do great things in the entertainment space.”

Microsoft’s Xbox has been selling well, compared to the other consoles in the space, led by eight million Kinects that flew off store shelves during the holidays.

If his past record is any indication, there’s no telling what Lee will do next. Among the projects he’s dabbled in, he lists: The Wii remote, giant paint-balloon slingshots, brain-computer interaction, kinetic typography, a poor man’s steadycam and more.

A CNET story about Lee’s contribution to the Kinect project, back when it was called Project Natal, explains how Lee gained attention for his projects using the Nintendo Wii to work as a head-tracking device, a multitouch user interface and more.


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