Kinect'ing with the Pentagon to help soldiers and veterans
- Posted: Dec 24, 2012 at 6:00AM
Today's inspirational project comes to us via Justin Rubio and the verge and is one that is close to home for me. My daughter is a Doctor of Physical Therapy, I'm a Army veteran, my son's in the Army Reserve, and of course I keep a close eye on the Kinect. With all that, there's no way I couldn't note this in the Gallery...
If all goes as planned, Microsoft's Kinect motion sensor camera will be used to help provide physical therapy for injured soldiers and veterans. According to Defense News, the company is working with the Air Force and the Army’s Communications-Electronics Research, Development, and Engineering Center to create a therapy system that utilizes the camera, a standard PC, and off-the-shelf software. Kinect offers an extremely affordable and effective tool for tracking body movements, and therapy software, such as ReMotion360, is already being used for physical rehabilitation.
Microsoft hopes its popular Kinect gaming accessory will score with veterans who need physical therapy.
“Microsoft is committing R&D and marketing resources to ensure that the [Defense Department] community is aware of the capabilities of the product, as well as the breadth of our partner community, which includes the system integrators,” said Phil West, Microsoft’s director of public sector solutions. “The targeted scenarios include therapy-related functions, but they also span training and simulation, interactive user interfaces, and so on.”
The Kinect is a gaming device that plugs into an Xbox 360 console or a PC. It has a camera that detects a user’s body motions, such as jumping up and down aerobically or swinging the arms as if holding a golf club, and translates those motions into commands that are copied on the computer screen by the user’s avatar.
This raises numerous possibilities for training and simulation, such as an Army Small Business Innovation Research contract earlier this year that sought proposals for a Kinect-based system to track the body movements of pilots to determine if they are focusing too long on a single display, for example.
Thus far, Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization, Army Medicine and the Navy’s Bureau of Medicine have expressed interest in the Kinect, as have Lockheed Martin, SAIC and CACI, according to Microsoft account executive Gary Danoff. Physical therapists have also found the Kinect useful for treating patients.
Kinect-based therapy offers several advantages. One is the convenience of home-based treatment, and consequently lower costs for maintaining medical facilities.
Setting up a PC-based Kinect, along with the ReMotion360 physical therapy software developed by Infostrat, an information technology firm in Washington, D.C., is fairly simple. After plugging the Kinect into the computer, users step back a few feet to let the Kinect camera capture their image. The picture then appears on the computer with a green stick-figure skeleton superimposed over it, and a white line to indicate the angles of limbs. When users successfully raise their arms to the desired range of motion — such as over their heads to an angle of 150 degrees — the white line turns blue.
Microsoft is also exploring the use of Kinect for post-traumatic stress disorder treatment, where patients in different locations can connect for a group therapy session.
Project Information URL: http://www.defensenews.com/article/20121217/TSJ01/312170003/Microsoft-Wants-Kinect-Pentagon