Researchers at Georgia Tech are working to move Kinect out of the toy category and move it into that of "useful device."
Originally achieved by pairing Kinect hardware with a set of knitted gloves that contained accelerometers, the researchers have now managed to ditch the gloves and focus directly on movements. By measuring the distances and changes between various body parts, the group has managed to achieve results of no lower than 98.8% accuracy based on tests of increasing difficulty.
The researchers are now working to integrate "hand shape features" rather than just gestural movements, so that they can expand the vocabulary and create a useful ASL tool. The focus of their development is the CopyCat software, which is to teach deaf children how to communicate with ASL.
The required hand shape features may need a higher resolution image than is currently provided, but it is rumoured that Microsoft would only have to push out a firmware update for this to be possible.
This is only the first of many possible medical, academic and accessibility uses of the gaming device. It"s unknown as to whether Microsoft had originally known that this type of hacking would take place or that it would continue to grow at such an alarming pace, but so far (maybe with the exception of some more adult implementations), the development has been nothing but good.