Creating a device that turns anyone into a human game controller for the Xbox began with one surprising task, says Alex Kipman: "I had to get wicked, wicked smart people to assume stupidity from day one." The Brazilian-born director of incubation and his team needed to account for the near-infinite ways ("10 to the 23rd," he estimates) that people look, speak, and move. Since its release in November, Kinect -- which consists of a depth sensor, microphones, and a motion camera tracking 20 points on the body in three-dimensional space--has inspired not only sales (some 10 million units) but also excitement among tinkerers who will soon have a Kinect software-development kit to advance their pet projects in, say, robotics or 3-D mapping. "This is a new era," says Kipman, "and it's going to require a ton of pioneering, a ton of innovation, and a ton of incubation. That's not going to happen all within Microsoft."