Kinect for Mankind

By Michelle Benedict                                                                           

It’s amazing what a second pair of electronic eyes can do.  Besides selling 8 Million units in the first 60 days, the Microsoft Kinect for Xbox 360 has more of an altruistic feel than traditional gaming systems.  Perhaps it’s because all you need to be able to play is the ability to move your body and the system literally plays off you.

It’s for this simplicity of game play, but complex design to mirror the player that the Kinect for Xbox 360 is already being used as a seeing aid, a rehabilitation device, a surgeon’s assistant and a developmental tool.  Here are a few of our favorite stories emerging about how Kinect users are making medical breakthroughs with this Microsoft technology.


Kinect to help the blind 'see' in augmented reality


Designed by graduate students at the Universität Konstanz in Germany, this seeing-eye Kinect has been dubbed the NAVI, or Navigational Aids for the Visually Impaired.

NAVI works something like this: the infrared camera from a Kinect system is mounted to a helmet that can be worn by a blind person. The visual data from that camera is turned into a set of audio instructions that are then transmitted to the wearer via a wireless headset. The system also features a standard camera added as well, allowing for a kind of three-camera stereoscopic vision. Certain items, such as door, will trigger events, such as a countdown, to prevent users from walking into the aforementioned door, in a kind of augmented reality.

The goal is to be able to give a blind person warnings about potential obstructions and directions to navigate in set spaces, at a longer distance than the current systems in place.
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Esoma Exercise System: Cardiac Rehab Using the Kinect


The Esoma Exercise System aims to shift cardiac rehabilitation to a patient-centered approach. Patients will play games powered by Microsoft Kinect and computer vision algorithms that recognize the execution of rehab exercises.

Patients wear physiological sensors while playing the games that monitor heart rate, blood oxygenation, etc. Rich feedback about their progress and improvement in physiological state will be embedded in the game to motivate self-efficacy. There will still be clinicians on the other side of the server, but they will act more as coaches that help patients make decisions for themselves based on the data. The system is being built as a CollaboRhythm plug-in so that it can benefit from the powerful tools for data visualization, communication, and social support.

Xbox Kinect in the hospital operating room


A team at Sunnybrook has come up with a novel new medical use for the Xbox Kinect. Visit their blog for more information and behind the scenes videos:

Microsoft Kinect at Lakeside Center for Autism


At Lakeside Center for Autism, Kinect is being used to help the children meet their developmental goals in communication, social interaction, turn taking, bilateral coordination and language advances.

We are just starting to see the groundbreaking uses for the Kinect, what will you do with yours?  Download your Kinect SDK and start creating the future now:

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