Microsoft’s Kinect motion capture technology is best known for its role in Xbox gaming, but it has also been repurposed for more novel uses. The latest example is as an in-home rehabilitation system for stroke victims to relearn motor skills.
Yesterday, the company announced that a joint team of Microsoft Research Asia and Seoul National University scientists built a prototype rehabilitation program. The Kinect’s camera captures patients’ skeletal movements, and can monitor their progress through game-like exercises. It may reduce medical costs.
It’s also more isolating for the elderly, so the team has conceived adding social networking capabilities to build a “sense of camaraderie” among the at-home patients. Microsoft Research foresees doctors communicating with patients too. See here for more details:
Microsoft Research China recently revealed a real-time sign language interpreter using Kinect. It makes spontaneous conversations possible between deaf people and others regardless of whether they understand sign language or not.
The company is not alone in its pursuit of assistive medical technologies. IBM announced that its Watson supercomputer was capable of serving as a medical diagnostician in October. Watson could use semantic understanding to analyze patient records – taking into account the context of information in a clinic setting.
I envision a future where assistive care medical devices and robots are common. The time will come when the cloud is the hardware, and applications are distributed over many devices. The sum of its parts will be human-like high intelligence.