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Intel Loves Kinect Hacks

It seems like the guys at Intel are big fans of Microsoft’s Kinect camera. At Tuesday's Research at Intel event at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, CA, researchers from Intel Labs showed that they have done their fair share of Kinect hacking. We’ve covered Kinect hacks pretty heavily in the past, but the stuff that Intel was doing with the (surprisingly advanced) camera was just darn right cool.

Computers That Can Guess Your Sex and Age

Intel demonstrated a system that can determine how old you are, and whether you are a boy or a girl, using a Kinect and some open source software. The software was also able to pick up on basic emotions (happy, sad, angry, etc), though it sometimes had issues. The computer incorrectly identified a woman as a 42 year-old angry man. I’m fine with a computer knowing my age and sex, but I draw the line when it starts to guess my weight.

Smarter Video Conferences

Another demo--again, using a Kinect and another bit of open source software--showed ways to improve how video conferencing gets done. The idea is that your Webcam would always be on, and ready to connect with another person. However, instead of seeing you, the other person would see a highly blurred image. You could see who was trying to reach you, and look directly at the camera if you wanted to respond to them. Think of it as a way to screen video chats without having to click to decline anything.

Shop for Clothes From Your Living Room

Now, I am not a big fan of shopping for new clothes. Having to deal with the crowds, the long lines for the dressing rooms, and the rampant consumerism makes me one sad panda (it also doesn’t help that I am fat and little kids make fun of me). Now thanks to Intel’s “Magic Mirror”, I will no longer be subject to the abuse that is the American shopping mall.

The “Mirror” is actually just a Kinect hooked up to a PC and a projector. The Kinect creates a realistic 3D avatar of you, which moves around in real time and follows your motions. The goal of this project is to someday allow people to (virtually) try on clothes at home, in the comfort of their living rooms. This is actually similar to a system a department store in Russia is trying out.

While all of these projects were done using open source software, the engineers at Intel said that they cannot wait until Microsoft releases an SDK to their widely popular Kinect camera. Once that happens, who knows what the Kinect will be hacked to do next.

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