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May 2011

5 interesting uses of Microsoft’s Kinect Sensor.

Posted in Technology | 7 Comments »

I love this thing. I own an Xbox 360, but I don’t want Kinect, for the simple reason that I bought a games console so I could sit down and be entertained with minimal physical involvement. Jumping around doesn’t quite fit into that. However, Microsoft have, quite surprisingly, encouraged people to mod and hack seven shades of [expletive] out of their sensor bar in order to find new uses for what is clearly the new standard in sensor technology. Here are five uses I think are particularly amazing, and go to show that the games industry is not about training teenagers to shoot up their educational establishments. Enjoy.

1) A post-earthquake assistance robot.

Seriously, I’m not joking – here it is. It uses the sensor to help it find its way through the rubble and assist the various brave individuals who save so many lives after an earthquake. They could really make good use of this in Japan right now, and personally I think it’s an incredibly touching display of putting gaming tech to use in a real-life environment.

2) Controlling someone else’s body.

This sounds rather sinister, but it’s actually pretty clever. By using the sensor to read his movements, artist Choy Ka Fai has enabled himself to send nerve impulses to the arms of a volunteer, triggering movement in someone else’s body. Soon, we shall call him The Puppetmaster.

3) Controlling a robot.

Okay, to some this may not be as jaw-dropping as acutally controlling another human being. But when you consider the fluidity of the robot’s movements, this could be great for a variety of uses. Bomb disposal being the first one that comes to mind – camera goggles and a Kinect robot? Zero-risk bomb defusal operations, at least for the person doing the defusing.

4) A robotic assistant in surgery.

In a surgical environment, being calm, unwavering and extremely precise is a requirement. Trust me, I watch Grey’s Anatomy. So when you’ve got a robot helping you out with a surgery in progress, it can really help the process along and even minimise risk due to a lack of human mistakes.

5) Helping the blind to see.

For me this is definitely one of the best. By attaching the sensor to the head of a blind person, these people have worked out a way to help them detect obstacles, which negates the need for a golden lab trotting around everywhere. Okay, sure, it means no lovely pet dog, but it affords the blind a sense of independence that I feel is really a step in the right direction.

These are just a few, but if you know of any, don’t hesitate to comment and tell me about them. Enjoy the next step towards virtual reality, everyone.

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