Kinect meets robotics

Those keeping a running tally of Kinect hacks can now add one more to the list - robot control.

According to Fast Company, Willow Garage, specialists in all things personal robotics, took a liberal helping of Microsoft's motion controller magic, threw in a dash of open-source robotics and came up with a unique control system.

Building on the Robotic Operating System, which Willow Garage created in conjunction with Stanford, the California-based company put together a gesture-based control scheme for PR2 robots, which are reportedly in wide use in the robotics research community. In a demonstration video, Willow Garage researcher Radu Bogdan Rusu also showed off remote robot control using the Kinect, which as Fast Company's Kit Eaton pointed out could prove invaluable for industry and exploration tasks where a physical human presence is impractical or unsafe.

Willow Garage also appeared to be trialling the use of two Kinect devices simultaneously to obtain a 3D image of both the front and back of the user. According to a comment left by Willow Garage on the video demonstration's YouTube page, the company has yet to encounter any issues with the two devices interfering with each other.

The list of innovative Kinect hacks is growing by the day, with the open-source community having already discovered how to use the motion controller as a PC multitouch and gesture control solution, 3D webcam, motion capture device and as a virtual lightsaber simulator.


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