Microsoft Ends Production of Kinect Motion Controller

Today’s topics include Microsoft's announcement that it's ending manufacturing of the Kinect Motion Controller; GE Digital's partnership with Microsoft to bring the Predix platform to Azure Cloud; Google's free Optimize web page design tools gain new testing features; and IOActive's disclosure of security flaws in an Inmarsat marine communications system.

Microsoft has stopped manufacturing the Kinect motion controller that helped enthusiasts and developers get their hands on advanced motion-sensing technology at low cost and sparked a hardware hacking movement.

Kinect was a sales success for Microsoft after it was released in November 2010 for the Xbox 360 and later updated for the company’s current-generation game console, the Xbox One.

This news was confirmed Oct. 25 by Microsoft executives Alex Kipman, the device's creator, and Matthew Lapsen, general manager of Xbox Devices Marketing, in a Fast Co. Design report.

Four months after hitting store shelves, Microsoft sold 10 million units, setting a Guinness World Record for the fastest-selling consumer electronics device. Over its lifetime, the peripheral would go on to sell about 35 million units. 

Microsoft and General Electric announced an interconnected partnership involving GE Digital’s Predix industrial internet platform and Microsoft’s Azure cloud at the GE Minds & Machines conference Oct. 26.

This closely follows an Oct. 18 agreement GE struck with Apple to make Predix deployable on iOS smartphones, tablets and laptops.

The Microsoft announcement expands Microsoft’s cloud services integration with Predix applications, Eddie Amos, GE Digital’s General Manager of Asset Performance Management, told eWEEK.

Predix connects industrial equipment such as jet engines and manufacturing power plants to data resources that can predict failures and reduce operating costs, running on all major clouds. Thus, the effort will be focused on large industrial use cases, but would also be relevant to numerous other companies that run applications in Azure.

This week Google added two new features to Optimize, the free version of Optimize 360, which is an enterprise grade A/B testing and website personalization product launched in 2016.

The free version offers many of the same features as the commercial version, but is targeted at small and medium businesses with a lower budget.

One of the new features gives marketers a way to change and test the web pages that people land on when they click on a particular ad in order to optimize ad landing pages so potential customers are more inclined to actually make a purchase.

The second feature allows site owners to conduct experiments for meeting customer objectives. "It's always good to put more options and control into the hands of our users," Google product managers Rotimi Iziduh and Mary Pishny wrote in their blog. "Testing and experimenting is one way to better understand and improve customer journeys."

Security firm IOActive announced Oct. 26 that it found a pair of critical security flaws in an Inmarsat maritime vessel communication platform that could have potentially exposed a ship to cyber-security risks.

The specific vulnerable system is Inmarsat's Stratos Global AmosConnect 8.4.0 communication shipboard platform. However, Inmarsat downplayed the potential impact.

We are aware of the IOActive report, but it is important to note AmosConnect 8 is no longer in service,” Inmarsat stated.

IOActive security researcher Mario Ballano told eWEEK that the two vulnerabilities he initially found in September 2016 include a blind SQL injection vulnerability in a login form that could have enabled an attacker to execute code, as well as a hard-coded credential flaw.

Upon hearing of the vulnerabilities, Inmarsat issued a security patch that was applied to AC8 to greatly reduce the risk potentially posed.