3 Unknown Ways to Use Kinect


Andrej Pauliny, EMANS developer

An innovative controller has expanded beyond gaming – it has found its place in art as well as manufacturing industry.

3 unknown ways to use Kinect When Microsoft launched Kinect for the Xbox game console more than five years ago, there was strong evidence that it would be a breakthrough technology destined for success.

A device that can use advancedinfrared camera, sensors and microphones to track body movements, recognize facial expressions and details such as a clenched fist, allowing to control the game by movements and a voice was to become a major differentiator in the battle with PlayStation and Wii consoles.

Following a massive marketing campaign with the slogan "You are the controller" worth hundreds of millions of dollars everything seemed very promising initially. Few people today would say that Kinect also entered the Guinness Book of Records as the fastest selling consumer device.

However, despite the initial enthusiasm Kinect was hampered by a lack of game titles that would function smoothly and make full use of its potential. The initial wave of enthusiasm was not repressed only by frustrating inaccuracy disapproved by notorious players, but also by relatively large space requirements. In order to operate Kinect in smaller rooms one must sometimes get rid of or at least move away furniture.

Controversy was also stirred by Microsoft's decision to permanently integrate Kinect in the new generation Xbox One console three years after being launched. Not only did the cost increase, but it also compromised performance . After a few months Microsoft changed its mind and began selling Xbox One without Kinect, thereby - at least for the time being – condemning the vision of a console as a versatile entertainment system that is to become the living room computer.

Dozens of analyses seeking an answer to why Kinect did not meet expectations can be found online. More specifically, the expectations in the gaming world. While in the mass consumer market Kinect seems to be condemned to the role of a mediocre accessory, innovators from different fields of business are inventing a variety of its application – from more or less usable ideas to the extravagant oddity.

The device does not connect to the console only, but also to the traditional PC. Thanks to that it is also tested by artists and robotics engineers  and it is actively used by animators to capture motions of the characters. The bizarre category includes the idea to use Kinect to control toilets – to control a toilet seat or to flush it – in an absolutely hygienic, contactless gestured way.

Creativity has no limits and there will certainly be more and more possibilities of using the Kinect or other devices for sensing the movement. There are three possibilities to use it in the business of which you have probably never heard.

1.       Kinect in a production line

Kinect in production lineA certain subcontractor in the automotive industry intended to deploy software for production management, which would help to reduce error rate and improve quality. Its employees handle varnished parts that cannot be damaged therefore nothing can be around them.

The workplace is surrounded by plastic foam and the computer with a monitor is a few meters away. How shall a worker tell the system whether a component is OK and how shall they give instruction to continue in the production process?

The solution lies in Kinect, which records a pre-learned gesture remotely, i.e. without the need to move towards the monitor and touch anything. Not only does it eliminate the risk of product damage, but it also increases productivity and thanks to the software company gains a better overview of production and is able to re-trace the "birth certificate" – the production history of each manufactured component.

2.       Kinect in a shop window

Kinect in a shop windowImagine being able to walk over to a shop window and see yourself on the big screen or in a form of a hologram. There is something weird, however – after a few seconds you realize that your virtual self is wearing different dress or a different suit than the one you are actually wearing. Of course, it is one of the latest models that just arrived in stores this week. But it is not the only one as voice system notifies you immediately when it captures your attention and offers you a pop-up menu directly on the window where you can also click on a different model. Of course, the system immediately "puts it on you" and shows you how you would look in it.

Contrary to the above example from production, this option is still only at a fictional level. Yet wouldn’t it be a great way to attract and capture the attention in today's busy world in which we ignore advertising and stop less and less at the shop windows?

3.       Kinect in any company

Whoever has ever tried to find out what employees think knows that the response – as in any survey – is hardly ever 100 per cent. What if, however, a large screen at the reception addressed people on their arrival to work with a different question every day and they would only use one gesture to express their yes or no? We have tested this possibility in our company and the response was positive.

Kinect can be used in internal surveys, as well as in manual labor trainings. The device can monitor employees, for example during assembly, and consequently visualize their movements and warn them on shortcomings as well as suggest improvements. Unlike humans Kinect has endless patience and I can imagine that many would rather train with Kinect than someone alive.


Do you wish more information?