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Kinect Engineer defects to Google

Johnny Chung Lee, distinguished engineer and core contributor of XBOX Kinect, has left Microsoft. He announced today on his blog that he's taken a position on a "special projects" team at Google. He had the following to say in the posting found on his blog:

"After more than two and a half years working as a core contributor to the human tracking algorithms for Kinect, it was an extremely difficult decision and I leave behind many great colleagues in Redmond."

At Microsoft, Lee was a researcher in the Applied Sciences division. According to his bio on the Microsoft Research page, this group is tasked with exporing new "novel input and output devices that can improve interaction with computing technology." There, he provided advice on existing product lines, and developed prototypes of new form factors. In 2009 he joined the XBOX team to specifically work on bringing XBOX Kinect to market.

Lee joined Microsoft in 2008 after graduating from Carnegie Mellon University with a doctorate in human computer interaction. In addition he holds multiple patents some of which include a foldable interactive display and an automated way for calibrating projectors. On Kinect he had the following to say:

"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, It was great to be a part of such a unique project. 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 departure of Dr. Lee from MSR follows a string of recent departures from the company, including the planned departure of Microsoft's Server and Tools Division head Bob Mugila this summer and the departure of Entertainment and Devices head Robbie Bach last May.

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