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Kinect Developer Leaves Microsoft for Google

Microsoft Kinect developer and infamous Wii hacker Johnny Chung Lee said Tuesday that he resigned from his position at Microsoft to join a special projects team at Google.

Johnny Chung Lee, a Carnegie Mellon University graduate with a PhD in Human-Computer Interaction, previously served more than two and a half years in Microsoft's Applied Sciences group and was a core contributor to Kinect's human tracking algorithms. Lee will now serve as a "Rapid Evaluator" at Google, however he did not elaborate on the new position.

In a blog posted on Tuesday, Lee admitted that leaving his position was an extremely difficult decision to make. He also seemingly regretted leaving "many great colleagues" behind.

"It was a wild ride, helping Kinect along through the very early days of incubation (even before it was called "Project Natal") all the way to shipping 8 million units in the first 60 days," he said. "It's not often you work on a project that gets a lavish product announcement by Cirque du Soleil and a big Times Square Launch party. The success of Kinect is a result of fantastic work by a lot of people. I'm also very happy that so many other people share my excitement about the technology."

Before revealing himself as one of the masterminds behind Project Natal (Kinect), Lee was well known for hacking the Nintendo Wii, using the remote and sensor bar to create a head-tracking device, a multitouch user interface and more. He joined Microsoft shortly after graduating from college in 2008, and then moved to the Xbox team a year later to help commercialize the Kinect device.

"It was great to be a part of such a unique project," he said Tueday. "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. It's a great console, and a great platform, with a lot of potential. I genuinely look forward to seeing how it will evolve over the next few years and I absolutely wish the Xbox team the best of luck."

Currently it's speculated that Lee will be working on Google's upcoming gaming division. It's also possible that his knowledge on human-computer interaction may be applied to the Android OS. Until Lee updates his blog regarding the new Google position, it's all just guesswork for now.