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Hacked iRobot Uses XBox Kinect To See World 124

Posted by Soulskill
from the gesticulating-at-robots dept.
kkleiner writes "A student at MIT's Personal Robotics Group is going to put Microsoft's Kinect to a good use: controlling robots. Philipp Robbel has hacked together the Kinect 3D sensor with an iRobot Create platform and assembled a battery-powered bot that can see its environment and obey your gestured commands. Tentatively named KinectBot, Robbel's creation can generate some beautifully detailed 3D maps of its surroundings and wirelessly send them to a host computer. KinectBot can also detect nearby humans and track their movements to understand where they want it to go." In related but less agreeable news, "Dennis Durkin, who is both COO and CFO for Microsoft's Xbox group, told investors this week that Kinect can also be used by advertisers to see how many people are in a room when an ad is on screen, and to custom-tailor content based on the people it recognizes."
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Hacked iRobot Uses XBox Kinect To See World

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  • by rsborg (111459) on Thursday November 18, 2010 @03:27AM (#34265704) Homepage

    In related but less agreeable news, "Dennis Durkin, who is both COO and CFO for Microsoft's Xbox group, told investors this week that Kinect can also be used by advertisers to see how many people are in a room when an ad is on screen, and to custom-tailor content based on the people it recognizes."

    Seriously, this is the first thing I thought when I read aboutthe Kinect. Here is a box, wired to the internet, with a hundred little beams that can not only tell what you're doing, what the room looks like to absurd levels of detail. Talk about 1984-style, in-soviet-russia type monitoring.

    Forget the advertisers, with enough of these things deployed the feds won't need those vans parked outside your house, they'll grab the data in real-time from either the ISP or Mircrosoft.

  • How nice... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by GF678 (1453005) on Thursday November 18, 2010 @03:52AM (#34265792)

    An MIT student works out an interesting way to merge Kinetic with existing technologies for the benefit of users.

    vs.

    A Microsoft rep talks about how Kinetic can be used to foster yet more advertising on people ...

    Interesting difference in the application of advanced technology.

  • Re:Less ad money? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by wvmarle (1070040) on Thursday November 18, 2010 @03:57AM (#34265808)

    The next thing you know is some DRM in your TV that disables the mute function during ads :)

  • Re:Less ad money? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by houghi (78078) on Thursday November 18, 2010 @04:19AM (#34265860)

    No. What will happen is that ads will become louder and more obnoxious, so people will not be able to ignore them. And as long as it brings in more money then it costs, ads will be there.
    People are so dicile that they think that ads are something we can't live without anymore.

  • Re:Less ad money? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by DeionXxX (261398) on Thursday November 18, 2010 @04:20AM (#34265862)

    This is true for all analog -> digital advertising. Digital advertising is so enticing to brands because they can MEASURE how their ads are actually doing. Are people looking at my ad? Are they interacting with it? How long? Are then then going to my site? Are they buying something? Are they coming back later? Did they invite someone else? Did those people come to our site? Did they buy something? On and on and on...

    Those are all questions we can answer now with digital advertising. You couldn't do that with "analog" ads in print, on TV or Radio.

    So at first companies stopped spending as much, then they realized that their normal ads didn't work, but soon, they started spending much more money on digital because they could maximize their returns now.

    So in this case, advertisers might start buying less ads if they see that people are ignoring them and leaving the room. However, advertisers will soon figure out what works and we'll have ads that are better tailored for the experience and will make people actually watch / interact with them. This happened with TV ads too... once DVR's became popular, advertisers created ads just for DVR's.

  • by QuantumG (50515) * <qg@biodome.org> on Thursday November 18, 2010 @04:21AM (#34265872) Homepage Journal

    1. you don't need an xbox 360
    2. trying to use two will interfere with each other..

    See, the way it works is, the unit projects an pattern in the infrared and a camera creates images which are processed to infer depth. That camera is calibrated with the standard color camera so you get full RGB-depth. So if you had two projecting the pattern you wouldn't get good images in the infrared.

    One way to defeat this may be to add a shutter to the projector and synchronize them so one is projecting when the other isn't.. you'd have to synchronize the frame dropping too. Another idea is to add a difference filter over each projector/camera pair.

    There's also the 100% software solution of actually modeling what you see automatically.. so you start with half a human, the human turns around and you get the other half, etc. It'll be mostly accurate.

  • by Xest (935314) on Thursday November 18, 2010 @05:30AM (#34266132)

    Fortunately there's no law and hence no enforcement preventing you from unplugging your network cable and/or Kinect when it suits to prevent this ever being a problem.

  • Re:Advertising (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mcvos (645701) on Thursday November 18, 2010 @05:52AM (#34266212)

    There's money in it. And it's not necessarily bad, mind you. I admit Microsoft's suggestion sounds creepily like pretty invasive spying, but I'm toying with ideas to have big screens with advertisements or other messages in some public space, respond to people standing in front of them. Show several items, and zoom in on the one they look or point at, for example. Stop playing a message when the person walks away. Show stuff bigger when they're far away, smaller when they're near. That sort of stuff.

    I'm not usually one for advertising, but the company I work for happens to do a lot of different things, and this sounds like something right up their alley.

  • Re:How nice... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by maeka (518272) on Thursday November 18, 2010 @07:44AM (#34266568) Journal

    An MIT student works out an interesting way to merge Kinetic with existing technologies for the benefit of users.

    vs.

    A Microsoft rep talks about how Kinetic can be used to foster yet more advertising on people ...

    "I liked the University. They gave us money, they gave us the facilities and we didn't have to produce anything! I've worked in the private sector. They expect results. You've never been out of college. You don't know what it's like out there."

  • Re:How nice... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by vegiVamp (518171) on Thursday November 18, 2010 @09:03AM (#34266872) Homepage

    Both are working for the benefit of their users/customers. You are just misguided about who MS' customers are.

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