Minnesota University Team Adapts Kinect for Medical Use

A team of researchers from the University of Minnesota has announced that it has found a novel new way of using the Kinect motion-tracking system from Microsoft to measure a range of disorder symptoms in children, creating a more objective way of evaluating them in order to detect problems like autism, attention deficit disorder and obsessive compulsive disorder.

The team includes a number of specialists in different fields that work at the Medical, Science and Engineering, and Education and Human Development colleges in Minnesota.

They have received a 3 million dollars grant from the National Science Foundation in order to better develop their Kinect-based diagnostic method.

Until now, evaluation for the medical problems mentioned above has been made by specialists that used video of the children in action and talks with their parents.

Using Kinect eliminates some of the subjectivity from the process and makes it more accurate.

Nikolaos Papanikolopoulos, who is a member of the team, has stated, “As a doctor, you don't have tangible data. We try to provide the tools in order to back up claims of a mental disorder.”

He added, “Something we can do three years down the line, we can do it today because of technology that was destined for the gaming industry.”

Using Kinect also means that the children need not be bothered with sensors that can be intrusive and that the medical system can save more than 100,000 dollars per evaluation.

Microsoft has recently announced that Kinect has sold more than 10 million units since its November 2010 launch, and during spring the company is expected to launch an official Software Development Kit for the PC.

Open-source PC drivers are used at the moment by enthusiasts that have adapted Kinect to play a range of games, like World of Warcraft, and to control a variety of appliances via gestures.

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