So Long Kinect, We Hardly Knew You

News comes out that Microsoft has ended production of Kinect. For gamers this is a bummer once eBay goes through the surplus of used Kinects, but it also has some ramifications for robot builders who use this device -- either with a Windows ROS or hacked into with Linux -- for various motion recognition tasks. We know that a $50 color camera can do about the same thing, but that takes some fairly sophisticated software. What's out there to choose that's as easy to use as the Kinect?

I'm hopeful that the Kinect's demise might spur more open source development of motion recognition using 2D (or even 3D) cameras. Perhaps the latest iterations of lower-cost 180 degree LiDARs can be used in conjunction with optical recognition for motion tracking, depth perception, room mapping, and so on.


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  • Yeah, I know quite a few guys used the Kinect on the larger Rhoomba based ROS bots.
    I ended up backing the Scanse Sweep Kickstarter last year, and got one in the mail, but have yet to use it on a bot. I wonder if it can do as good as a Kinect for most robot use? It's a lot smaller, so that's a plus.
  • Bummer. Let the hoarding begin!
    "When you make a thing, a thing that is new, it is so complicated making it that it is bound to be ugly. But those that make it after you, they don’t have to worry about making it. And they can make it pretty, and so everybody can like it when others make it after you."

    - Pablo Picasso
  • Did not know you at all.

    What is a "Kinect"?

    What does it do that I am missing?

  • GordonMcCombGordonMcComb Posts: 3,289
    edited October 2017 Vote Up0Vote Down
    Publison posted a link about the Microsoft robotics software, which used a Kinect for navigation and body gesture control, but to simplify: Kinect is an optional piece of hardware designed for the XBox to allow for body gesture control for playing games. It's somewhat "old school" by today's standards, using a set of sensors that detect body movements in 3D space.

    That is, move an arm, and the Kinect creates a skeletal map that registers you've moved your arm. Raise a leg, and Kinect determines you've raised a leg.

    When Parallax was involved with the Eddie platform, which used the MS robotics .NET suite, one of the common add-ins was a Kinect. The Kinect attached via USB to a host laptop, and Microsoft-supplied drivers used the Kinect output to register movement and see in 3D space. Other uses could be for mapping, obstacle avoidance, and such.

    For more, there's this new Wikipedia thing that explains it well.

    Kinect was pretty much all hardware-based, not relying on external software to do the key motion analysis. Drivers read the movement data, but everything was calculated in the device itself. This made it relatively easy to implement, as long as you had drivers for your device. This is as opposed to the "new" approach of one or two video cameras that detect motion in 3D space, where it's entirely done in software. There are open source tools for this, but it's somewhat scattered.
  • I can't believe it was six years ago that they introduced the Eddie. I was there at Makerfaier for that one. Parallax had a nice booth.
    Infernal Machine
  • Heater. wrote: »
    Did not know you at all.

    What is a "Kinect"?

    What does it do that I am missing?

    Had to look it up too ;)
    I won't miss it, but for sure there will be a lot that will.

    Is there a replacement/equivalent?
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  • Publison wrote: »
    I can't believe it was six years ago that they introduced the Eddie. I was there at Makerfaier for that one. Parallax had a nice booth.
    Oh wow.
    I was there. And I met Eddie. And as it happens we probably crossed paths.

    I've seen the device in action. While I wasn't impressed for its responses, for the game platform, I certainly was impressed in using it for bots such as Eddie.
  • For alternatives there are only one or two along the same lines as a Kinect for motion, gesture, and skeletal tracking sensing. The best known would likely be the Xtion from Asus. The future trend is likely going in a new direction of much more robust 2D/3D systems using video only, or perhaps supplemented with some form of laser tracking.
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