Microsoft introduced a peripheral device for gaming in November called Microsoft Kinect for Xbox 360. The product turned out to be a brain-dead simple-to-use, innovative and completely new user interface. It became the fastest-selling consumer electronics product in history, and has now sold more than 10 million units.
Kinect's reception has been more akin to an Apple product like the iPod,iPhone or iPad than a Microsoft one. Usually Microsoft has to spend hundreds of millions of marketing dollars just to become a second-tier player. Think of Bing, or Windows Phone 7. But not the Kinect. It just took off. Everyone loves it. The Kinect is Microsoft's iPad -- the hot consumer appliance with no significant competition.
Then something really unusual happened. Kinect became the hottest platform in the industry for bold new inventions. Scientists, hobbyists and inventors started "hacking" the Kinect to build crazy new contraptions, all without Microsoft's knowledge or permission.