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Celebrating creative uses of Kinect

November 21, 2011

I love a good TV commercial. Last night I saw “The Kinect Effect” from Microsoft and it became an instant favorite. It’s a lovely piece of theater and very moving. It’s also Apple-esque, eerily resembling the “Think different” campaign. Good for you, Microsoft — I knew you had it in you!

The ad talks about the unexpected uses that individuals other than Microsoft R&D experts have discovered for the Xbox Kinect gaming device. For those who have been out of touch, you interact with a Kinect through voice or physical movement. As the video indicates, educators and other creative folks have been having a grand time exploring ways it can be used for more than gaming. Microsoft has even created a web page about this phenomenon, which they call the Kinect Effect.

This is all possible because Microsoft recently provided a beta toolkit that lets developers create their own applications for the device; expect a commercial release next year. My colleague, Paul Turner, has a student in his AT Lab working to add Kinect interactivity to a projected Gigapan panorama, so that you can zoom in and pan through the image by moving your arms and torso.

I love finding novel uses for a tool or figuring out ways to persuade one do something it doesn’t initially want to do. I am also a big fan of “blank slate” tools – ones that are not narrowly focused but can be used for a wide variety of purposes, like blogs and wikis.

The Kinect interface essentially lets your body act like a huge 3D computer mouse; your voice or gestures are received by the device and interpreted into commands that control a piece of software. It could conceivably be used for anything from browsing the web to flying a jet. I can’t wait to see what educators come up with!

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. December 8, 2011 9:40 am

    thank you for your info.i like creative and kinect.

  2. November 21, 2011 6:42 pm

    I was on the bus and was overhearing (eavesdropping) two sick kids hospital nurses saying they are using the kinect units to help with basic motor control issues and rehab. Pretty neat that its not just a toy and has REAL applications. Who would have thunk it?

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