Juan Hincapié-Ramos, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Manitoba’s, is working on early-stage development of an app called CrashAlert that uses a depth-sensing camera to alert you of oncoming objects.
Eventually, the idea is to have the app work in smartphones that feature cameras with the ability to detect surroundings. But for the prototype, Hincapie-Ramos attached a Microsoft Kinect on the back of a 7-inch Acer tablet to imitate the technology.
The researcher had test subjects walk around while playing a mobile game on the tablet. Volunteers were instructed to get in the way to mimic potential collisions and CrashAlert would notify the subjects when impact was imminent.
In this research paper, Hincapie-Ramos noted that “CrashAlert induced simpler corrective actions (i.e. dodging and slowing down) to avert possible collisions, providing users additional time and space for other more complex corrections (i.e. heads-up and full stops), and thus leading to safer walking.”
Embedding Kinect technology in small places is actually a big part of Microsoft’s vision of the future. When we caught up with Microsoft’s Craig Mundie a few months ago, he held up his Surface tablet and said, “My dream is to get Kinect embedded into the bezel of something like this. Today, Kinect is half as big as this thing. But the physics, at least theoretically, might allow that to be done. So we’ll keep driving that.”