Kinect Hack Helps the Blind Navigate

This is a really cool idea that can genuinely help people

Kinect hacks seem to be getting better and better. From being hacked to work with Windows 7 all the way to the recent Evil Genious simulator, there's now even more excuse to give Kinect hacking a try. However, the University of Konstanz in Germany has created possibly one of the best and most useful hacks yet: The gift of sight to the blind. Well, kind of.

The hack, created by Masters students Michael Zöllner and Stephan Huber, involves a lot of carefully placed tech to that, although it doesn't give the partially sighted the ability to see, it provides better awareness of indoor surroundings.

Called NAVI (Navigational Aids for the Visually Impaired), the Kinect sits on top of the person's head attached to helmet. The Kinect is wired up to a laptop, which is placed in a custom fold-out backpack. The laptop runs the C# software used to power the Kinect, and the fetching waistbelt that contains three LilyPad vibration motors, connected to an Arduino board. The software also renders an Augmented Reality (AR) system. To get the Kinect camera working to its full potential, AR-Toolkit markers were placed on walls and doors of the building, giving the Xbox 360 accessory a way of navigating a route. There is also a Bluetooth headset for voice commands.

Once everything is strapped up to the person, the Kinect will look around for a route and then, depending how far away it is from a marker, give instructions such as "Door ahead in 3, 2, 1" and " "Pull the door". Signs can also be read out to wearers.

This is a really cool idea that can genuinely help people, however it could do with a few more improvements first. For instance, it could really do with being more compact, and that laptop hanging out the bag seems a bit of a spacial hazard (or an invitation for someone to tinker with the wearer unaware). Also, it's not clear what the big belt is for, though seeing as it vibrates, it must be either a secondary indicator or a warning if you're about to walk into a wall.

That aside, check out the video of the hack in action, and marvel at how useful the Kinect technology really could be.

via Engadget]

Like this? You might also enjoy...

* New Biochip Gives Blood Test Results in Minutes

* Open-Source Kimono Lantern Could Help Tsunami Victims

* Kinect-Powered Robot Could Help Earthquake Victims

Get your GeekTech on: Twitter - Facebook - RSS | Tip us off

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags gaming peripheralsMicrosoftUniversity of Konstanzgames

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Elizabeth Fish

PC World (US online)
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Matthew Stivala

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

The HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer is a great device that fits perfectly into my fast paced and mobile lifestyle. My first impression of the printer itself was how incredibly compact and sleek the device was.

Armand Abogado

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

Wireless printing from my iPhone was also a handy feature, the whole experience was quick and seamless with no setup requirements - accessed through the default iOS printing menu options.

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?