Friday, December 3, 2010

Cool Technology of the Week

I'm not a gamer, but I have a great appreciation for the technologies incorporated into gaming systems.   Sometimes, technologies using in gaming can have an impact on healthcare education, such as in physical simulators and virtual patient tools.

The Microsoft Kinect controller, introduced in November, is likely to be one of those technologies.

The device features an RGB camera, depth sensor and multi-array microphone  which provides full-body 3D motion capture, facial recognition and voice recognition capabilities. The depth sensor consists of an infrared laser projector combined with a monochrome sensor, and allows the Kinect sensor to see in 3D under any ambient light conditions.

What are the possibilities?   This New York Times article highlights some of the creative ways Kinect has already been used to control robotics, create immersive 3D renderings, and control movement of virtual objects.

Microsoft would be wise to offer a Software Development Kit and embrace a community of innovative developers, just as iRobot has done with its iRobot Create variant of the Roomba consumer cleaning robot.

3D motion capture, facial recognition, voice recognition and depth sensing for $150.00.   That's cool!


Bron said...

I'll bet that $150 price point is artificially lowered to prime the pump for future revenue from game sales. If they offered it as a standalone system, I'm sure the price would be higher. There are people hacking and reverse engineering them however, so the possibilities are already starting to open up, albeit not in a sanctioned way.

Anonymous said...

Interestingly, Microsoft has said that it supports people hacking on the Kinect. It has yet to offer any sort of official API though. As a result, there are a couple of open source, unofficial APIs that have already sprung up:

Rob Tweed said...

Some of the guys in the Node.js community are looking into integration with the Kinect - see

BTW, if you've not seen Node.js, then you should check it out - it ought to be your next Cool Technology of the week. Its potential applicability to healthcare IT is profound.

Rob Tweed said...

John - just expanding on the Node.js topic (you may not want to add this comment but just wanted to provide you with a little more background if you're interested). I've been doing a lot of work recently with Node.js and it is a serious game-changer in my view. Two big immediate opportunities are:1) using it in conjunction with WebSockets to bring real-time information into browsers - think real-time diagnostic info delivered into a standard web app running in an iPad, iPhone or Android device at the bed-side, or real-time instrumentation feeds into a browser; 2) a solution, at last, to modernising the huge amounts of perfectly adequate but old-fashioned CHUI-based legacy applications out there, eg VistA but I'm sure you can think of others. I'm actively working on a couple of such projects now. For more info see the news items at I'd be happy to provide more information on Node.js if you're interested. Rob

Marcio von Muhlen said...

Thanks John for this and other thoughtful posts.

The Kinect gives the ability for a computer to see the world like human beings do, for a very reasonable price, and the potential for useful applications to grow out of this is huge.

Anonymous said...

To address Bron, there have been several articles recently about the cost of the Kinect device. Here is one that indicates component costs are only $56.

Brian said...

This technology is very promising. It could be used in so many ways within all healthcare delivery environments. One significantly promising area is within telehealth. An API by Microsoft would certainly be valuable and go a long way to spurring innovation using this technology.