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COMP1715: Applications of Microsoft Kinect

Introduction

With the release of the Software Development Kit (SDK) for Kinect, there have been many applications developed that users of the Kinect can utilise for different purposes. However, since there are so many; I am only going to focus on three, which are creating music with Kinect, recognising human gesture and the use of Kinect in education.

Review

Kinect is a motion device created by Microsoft which utilises the camera and microphone to create gesture and sound for a required operation. Microsoft’s initial intention for Kinect was for the Xbox 360 and it was a way to enhance and change the way people play games. Now, with popular demand, people wanted Kinect to be open source which enables programmers to easily implement applications for different purposes other than gaming on the Xbox 360.

Some of these purposes can be used and applied in education as Dr. Hsu describes that Howell combines the accessibility of Scratch with Kinect to allow children to physically interact with a software program without having to touch the screen (Hsu, 2011). This will make it a lot easier for kids to learn programming in an easy and fun environment as Dr. Hsu further explains that the benefits of integrating technology into the classroom include meeting the needs of visual learners, more interactively teaching whole-class lessons, and better engaging students (Hsu, 2011). Getting kids to interact and engage more with the class will be very beneficial to them as it will improve their confidence later in life. Technologies like Kinect can really help the way kids are taught as they are also more likely to remember and learn more.


Schools can introduce Kinect in a way to make music using human gesture as explained by Patsadu, Nukoolkit and Watanapa, Human Gesture is a non-vocal communication, used instead of or in combination with verbal communication, intended to express meaning. Using this way of communication, Yoo, Beak and Lee are able to make a way for gesture to be converted to MIDI by using their Kinect-MIDI convertor, they explain that any music application controlled MIDI data can be used to create music and sound (Yoo, Beak and Lee, 2011). With this, students can easily create music without having to have advanced knowledge on using complicated programs. This can also be beneficial for people with disabilities, enabling those that are unable to function a certain way are open up to different possibilities to learn. Dr. Hsu states that Kinect will become a focal classroom technology in the next few years (Hsu, 2011). Motion technologies like Kinect can prove to be useful in many circumstances which will bring students together in a learning environment, which is why it could potentially be integrated with education in the near future and be an essential tool for educators.


However, the Kinect also comes with its constraints as Dr. Hsu describes that calibration takes time, which may result in the waste of instruction time. To begin with, it may take up to a few minutes for Kinect to track a new user. Furthermore, sometimes situations arise for re-calibration when students walk out of the range that Kinect can reach or when calibration is not done correctly. Moreover, when the number of players increases, the procedure of calibration may disrupt the class (Hsu, 2011). This does not mean that this cannot be solved, by the time technologies like Kinect take over education, it will most likely be improved and there could be different technologies that cater for different learners. Although the Kinect is a 3D motion capture device, soon, 4D technologies are just around the corner such as virtual reality headwear which will further change the way people learn. On the other hand, the more advanced the technologies will be in the future, the costs are sure to increase and it will be very expensive for schools to purchase these equipment for students to use. Furthermore, technologies like Kinect require a clear workspace to use and preferably a big television for people to see. A lot of schools may not be suited for the Kinect as a large space is required. This would mean that schools would need to put the Kinect in a larger room like a Hall which may become impractical if you rely on devices like the Kinect to teach your lessons as you may not be able to use the device all the time. In addition to this, Dr. Hsu also explains that there are still very few software programs and teaching materials available that utilize the kinaesthetic potential of Kinect (Hsu, 2011). This means that at this moment in time, there is only so much you can do with the Kinect in education, but as I said before; in the future, there will be more opportunities that technologies can harness the potential to be incorporated in education.

Conclusion

In conclusion, I think the applications of Microsoft Kinect have potential to do something great like be incorporated in education. However, there is not enough software there to diverse the use of the Kinect. Having said this, I do believe that in the future, technologies like Kinect will have a reliable source of applications that can be used and applied in places like school to teach a range of subjects. As it currently stands, the Kinect technology needs to be even easier to use and reliable, for example, the calibration time significantly reduced so that there is more time using, then sorting out technical issues.


References

Hsu, H. (2011) The Potential of Kinect in Education. pp. 365-370, [Online] Available at: https://cms1.gre.ac.uk/teachmat1516/COMP1715/course/Week5/59-R025.pdf


Patsadu, O., Nukoolkit, C. and Watanapa, B. (2012) Human Gesture Recognition Using Kinect Camera. pp. 28-32, [Online] Available at: https://cms1.gre.ac.uk/teachmat1516/COMP1715/course/Week5/JCSSE12-orasa.pdf


Yoo, M., Beak, J. and Lee, I. (2011) Creating Musical Expression using Kinect. pp. 324-325, [Online] Available at:

https://cms1.gre.ac.uk/teachmat1516/COMP1715/course/Week5/nime2011.pdf


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