With the expansion of Microsoft’s Kinect beyond the Xbox 360 to Windows, computer scientists and researchers are coming up with all sorts of novel uses for the motion sensor and camera array built in to the device. But here’s a new one: weighing astronauts in space.
New Scientist reports that Carmelo Velardo, a computer scientist at Eurecom in France, is proposing to use Kinect in that way at the International Space Station, replacing much larger and more complex systems for tracking the weight of people in space. Here’s how it would work, according to the New Scientist article.
Along with colleagues at the Italian Institute of Technology’s Center for Human Space Robotics in Torino, he used the Kinect’s depth-sensing ability to create a 3D model of an astronaut. Then the team ran their calculation using a statistical model that links weight to body measurements based on a database of 28,000 people. Velardo’s estimates are 97 per cent accurate, corresponding to an average error of just 2.7 kilograms, which is comparable to the current method used on board the ISS.
A NASA scientist tells the site that the idea appears feasible, but changes in body density in space mean that the approach would still need to be tested to make sure the tests on Earth hold true in zero gravity.
Richard Hay, who originally brought the New Scientist article to our attention, jokes in a post that the introduction of Kinect in space could have a side benefit: “Maybe a little Dance Central action amongst the astronauts?”