With the recent release of open source PC drivers and Microsoft’s official SDK (Software development kit) for Kinect, researchers are being given the opportunity to adapt the technology to their individual needs. Controlling a robot is nothing new, but give that robot an operating room, a scalpel and your femoral artery and things start to get a little more interesting.
This concept of alienating the device is exactly what Microsoft is pushing for, so it is no surprise that researchers, in a collaboration between the Institute of Child Development, the University of Minnesota Medical School and the College of Science and Engineering, are now aiming to utilize the power of Kinect as a way to observe and analyse abnormal movements and behaviours in children such as autism, attention-deficit disorder and OCD.
Take several Kinect cameras, station them around a small room and then monitor the behaviour of a child playing with toys in an unobstructed state. The Kinect video feed is then sorted into data by open-sourced software, tweaked to the demands of researchers and then presented to doctors.
Traditionally, these observations were carried out by humans with video cameras. But now, with the recent 3$ million National Science Foundation grant they have at their disposal, lead researcher and professor Nikolaos Papanikolopoulos says the Kinect-based observation and analysis could take the subjectivity out of this process.
Not only could this result in significant savings over traditional diagnostic methods and procedures, but also over similar observation systems that can cost over $100,000 and prevent the need to attach intrusive sensors to the child.
With the official SDK for Kinect only released earlier this month (spring for non-commercial use) there are still a few technological kinks to iron out of the system. According to Papanikolopoulos, hopes are high that test will begin within the next six months.
Last Updated: March 17, 2011