Kinect, a door on virtual reality
The system offered by Microsoft is an interface to virtual worlds, more powerful and simpler than all other current systems. It was formerly named Natal.
It can recognize six people including two active players at the same time, they did not need to wear a device, which surpasses all other existing systems.
He currently works on XBox 360 with a expansion box and should in future be integrated into Windows.
How to use it
The sensor has a viewing angle of 57° horizontally and 43° vertically which added to the rotation capacity of the support tilt, horizontally and vertically. We should therefore be placed close enough to the group.
The user must be placed at least 1.8 meters away and more if there are several players.
How Kinect works
The console comes with a sensor and a camera to be placed near the screen, and with a microphone, a sensor of depth. This suffices to distinguish all the motions. The arm of the character mimics that of the player and his body all his movements, and they interact with virtual objects and decor.
The box of Kinect as described by the documentation, includes the following components:
- Multi-array micro.
- 3D depth sensors.
- RGB webcam (red-green-blue).
- Motorized support to accompany the movements of the user.
This is compledted by a software using 200 megabytes of disk space.
The software incorporates facial recognition, allowing multiple players to be recognized and associated with the same characters in the virtual world. We must save our face to be recognized automatically when we appear in front of the box.
The microphone receives a signal which is processed by the software to locate its source and eliminate background noise.
The depth infrared sensor can operate in the dark.
Kinect actually uses a library of builtin movements, which is supplied to software vendors to adapt their products to the console. Unknown movement from the player would not be recognized.
The user is seen as a skeleton with a set of points at the ends and joints, thereby recognizing its movements, which are then associated with gestures in the library.
Hackers and Kinect
Microsoft had initially protested against hackers initiative to create open source drivers for the box, then decided to let it go.
Thus the Free60 project to develop software for Linux running on Xbox 360.
Hacking is precisely to use the USB port to retrieve the signal from the 3D sensor and redirect it to a computer. Microsoft said there see no problem.
Besides the game console, it finds new application to the device by coupling it with specialized software.
This medical application project Virtopsy in Switzerland uses it couplied with the voice for controlling an imaging system to facilitate the review of radiographs.
It will be used by surgeons in the operating room or by pathologists to perform virtual easier autopsies.
- Learning sign language
Researchers at the Georgia Tech College of Computing are working on developing a course to learn sign language, based on the use of Kinect. It provides interactivity which greatly facilitates learning.
See the video.
Using Kinects like interface of a surgical robot, as part of an experiment conducted by the University of Washington, students were shown that we could save $ 50 000.
- Robotic learning
Predator software coupled with KINECTS allows a robot to learn to follow objects in motion, and distinguish them from the environment by correcting its mistakes.
It would also be used in video surveillance, augmented reality.
Source: University of Surrey.
Kinect for PC
Aside from hacking the device for use on a PC, can we expect to see equivalent instrument specifically dedicated to PC?
Kinect was not invented by Microsoft, but by the company PrimeSense which dismissed its technology to the firm. PrimeSense is currently working with Asus to WAVI Xtion which will control the computer through gestures.
Should be available in February.
For its part, Microsoft has released on June 17, 2011 a development kit for Windows. This opens the way for applications and games controlled by gestures on desktop computers.
It may be downloaded for free.
- Kinect SDK for Windows. Includes a development kit and a runtime to integrate into applications. The box is more sophiticated than the Xbox version, but more expensive, because the latter provides additional income. See a description on Microsoft's blog.
Kinect vs. wiimote and alternatives
As noted in the article on new interfaces to computers, there are many different systems to interact with a computer and be integrated into a virtual world.
Whoever was the most successful is the Nintendo Wii, a Wii controller supplemented by a balance recognizing body movements.
The controller sends a signal to a receiver which recognizes the movements of the arm. It's perfect for a game like tennis, but not suitable for all situations. with the extra balance it can recognizing the movement of feet and body, and all this constitutes a rather cumbersome apparatus of which we get rid in the case of Kinect: movements are directly recognized by the system.
Kinect also responds to voice commands.
Designed for PC, the device produced by Asus recognizes gestures to a distance of 3.5 m, while Kinect is clamped on the PC at a short distance.
Gales are supplied with the unit.
- Milo another vidéo. Based on Kinect, an intelligent virtual character that interacts with users and reacts to their emotions.
- Minority Report with Kinect.
- Infra-red projection. How kinect see the room where you are standing.
- How kinect works. Video. PDF.
- Top 10 Kinect hacks. Videos.