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Kinect Employed To Analyse And Assist The Elderly

Felix Kemp
Kinect, Microsoft, Microsoft Research

Kinect Employed To Analyse And Assist The Elderly

Tracks Movement To Anticipate Falls

Let's face it, Kinect is sort of hamstrung as a consumer electronics device. The tech it's hiding, the potential, it could be used for much better than improving your quadriceps or your proficiency at slicing airborne fruit. That's just what a team of researchers at Missouri University have set about doing, setting up a batch of Kinect sensors to monitor the movement of elderly people within their own home, so as to anticipate potential falls or signs of illness or injury.

The Missouri researchers performed a trial where Kinect sensors place around an elderly person's house monitored their movement, such as the speed at which they're walking or the direction they're taking, to anticipate whether a fall or potential injury could be encountered. The trial was an overwhelming success."We know from the research that we can pick things up ten days to two weeks before critical health change events happen," revealed University of Missourri nursing professor Marilyn Rantz.

Trials such as this using cameras and photography have often been less successful, mainly due to the test subject's reservations regarding privacy. It must be very uncomfortable having a camera track your movement all over your house, well-aware that the image is being studied by an outside party. Kinect doesn't use a camera in the traditional sense, instead employing depth-sensing infrared tech to create a silhouette. "This alleviates many seniors' concerns about privacy when traditional web camera-based monitoring systems are used," Rants explains.

It's great to see Kinect being used for far greater and beneficial purposes than gaming. While it's obviously an interface with a lot of possibility in our medium, it's unique strengths can be harnessed for much more important matters. [Gamasutra]

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