Microsoft’s Kinect peripheral can do a lot of cool stuff, and the next iteration that will come with the XBox One will be able to do even more: like tracking players’ heart rates and the movement of individual fingers.
The original device is still being used in many interesting ways outside of video games altogether, but maybe none as unique as what scientists at North Carolina State University are doing. They’re using the Kinect to plot paths for and then guide the movements of cockroaches. Yes, as in the bugs.
While it might be a lot of fun just to mess with the roaches, they’re doing it in the hopes of someday saving human lives. As the scientists told U.S. News & World Report, the idea is that the bugs can be fitted with sensors and sent into hazardous places or disaster areas to help locate survivors. They’re even toying with the idea of putting small speakers and microphones on the roaches so that rescuers could communicate with anyone they find.
Perhaps the new, improved Kinect will allow the team to command a whole squadron of bugs a la Ant Man. Regardless, it’s an eye-opening project that shows how technology originally designed for video games can have unexpected real world benefits.