New Xbox Kinect means new sensor for roboticists

The new — somewhat confusingly named — Xbox One was announced today by Microsoft, but more importantly for the world of robotics, a new Kinect motion-sensing camera was also confirmed.

The original Kinect made it affordable for both professional roboticists and enterprising hobbyists to endow their robots with powerful 3-D motion capture, depth sensing, facial recognition and voice recognition. It was also one of the key pieces of hardware included with both the first- and second-generation TutleBot personal robot kit.

According to Microsoft:

“The completely redesigned, revolutionary 1080p Kinect is more precise, more responsive and more intuitive. Its unparalleled vision, motion and voice technology let you reach into games and entertainment like never before by dramatically expanding its field of view and fidelity. It works in nearly any lighting condition, recognizes precise motion control from a slight wrist rotation, and distinguishes your voice even in a noisy room using advanced noise isolation.”

Key things to note include the much-sharper 1080p camera and expanded field of vision. Beyond that, the new Kinect’s other under-the-hood upgrades make it possible for it to read your heartbeat and track up to six skeletons at once.

How roboticists will make use of these advances has yet to be seen, but the increasing power and decreasing cost of sensors like Kinect has already proven to be one of the major drivers of the current explosion of robotic technology.

[ photo courtesy of Microsoft ]