Microsoft Kinect 'core contributor' goes Google

Microsoft Kinect 'core contributor' goes Google

Summary: Johnny Chung Lee, a Microsoft researcher who was a "core contributor" to Microsoft's Kinect gaming sensor, has jumped ship and gone to Google.


Johnny Chung Lee, a Microsoft researcher who was a "core contributor" to Microsoft's Kinect gaming sensor, has jumped ship and gone to Google.

Lee is now a "Rapid Evaluator" with Google, according to his Web page. (Thanks to @pradeepviswav for the link.)

In a January 18 blog post, Lee acknowledged he had switched horses. From that post:

"Very recently, I have left Microsoft to join a special projects team at Google. After more than 2 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 Microsoft Applied Sciences group, chartered with exploring "novel input and output devices that can improve interaction with computing technology." He helped advise direction on existing hardware product lines and developed prototypes of new form factors. Lee holds several patents and has applications in for more.

He moved to the Xbox team in 2009 to help Microsoft commercialize the product, which it launched in 2010. Microsoft officials said in January 2011 that the company has sold 8 million Kinects to retailers in the first 60 days the product was available.

Lee joined Microsoft in June 2008 after graduating with a doctoral degree in human-computer interaction from Carnegie Mellon University. His research focused on projection technology, multitouch input, augmented reality, brain-computer interfaces, and haptics. He also is known for his Wii hacking work.

It's not all about departures in Microsoft's Interactive Entertainment Business (IEB) unit, however.

As others have reported, Rahul Sood, the founder of VoodooPC (acquired by HP in 2006) became the General Manager of System Experience in IEB at the end of 2010.  Sood posted recently about Microsoft's hardware-recruitment efforts, noting the company is holding a product fair and networking event on January 26 in Silicon Valley to attract new talent in the Valley and Redmond who are interested in working on Xbox, Kinect, Surface, Windows Phone and other Microsoft hardware-specific teams.

Topics: CXO, Google, Hardware, Microsoft, Mobility, Security, IT Employment


Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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  • Something tells me Lee didn't get the position he wanted

    since they hired outside the company for the General Manger position?
    John Zern
    • Something tells me that Working at Google is a lot more exciting.

      He probably hated people snickering when they found out he worked at Microsoft.
  • So Sood was hired as GM,

    how long until he leaves the company, given the revolving door at MS.

    So much for their bottom 10% theory
    • Don't Know. Google has a pretty massive revolving door themselves

      Do any of these people ever bother to unpack?
      John Zern
  • RE: Microsoft Kinect 'core contributor' goes Google

    Google is always trying to peach from MS. It's a PR stunt to undermine the huge success of Kinect which is inconvenient for Glove fanboys. But it only proves Google know MS is where the action is. He's obviously not that "core" -- pure spin.
    Tim Acheson
  • RE: Microsoft Kinect 'core contributor' goes Google

    What's this with Google always pinching Softies? How many Ex'es have they not nabbed throught the years? I suspect the success of Google is actually resting on the back of information pilfered from Microsoft.
    • It goes both ways. Plenty leave Google for greener pastures

      It's just the nature of the business.
      John Zern
    • In that case


      He'll be poached by Facebook within a year...
      The one and only, Cylon Centurion
  • High turn over rates are VERY good for high tech companies. It is important

    to keep the ideas churning. But, that said, Google is winning the war, and getting more of the best candidates.
    • Then how is it


      Their software sucks so much, and lacks the integration and stability of other Microsoft software?
      The one and only, Cylon Centurion
  • RE: Microsoft Kinect 'core contributor' goes Google