This has been an inspiring week for me. Last weekend though Monday I was in Redmond for the US Imagine Cup. Great projects. Today I am at the FIRST Robotics World Championship in St Louis. And I’m seeing some amazing things here already. For example imagine a robot arm controlled by leg movements?

Robotics Advancing The Human Condition is a project that does just that. 

IMSA's FIRST Robotics Team 2022, Titan Robotics, inspired by IMSA's Principal/Vice President for Academic Programs, Dr. Eric McLaren, will lead a competition to design and build during the off season robotics devices that assist people with special needs. This year the project is about helping ALS victims and anyone else with very limited use of their upper body (i.e. arms and hands.) The challenge will be to design and build a robotic mechanism that people can use to feed themselves

The students who developed this hardware and software have been demonstrating it at the Microsoft booth here at the FIRST event. Oh, why yes it is using the Kinect Sensor to “read” body movement and control the robot.

Other teams here are using the Kinect Sensor to control their robots if different ways. Several are using it to get more human control over the robot. I talked to a team, FIRST Robotics Team 75, that was using the Kinect during the autonomous/hybrid mode of the competition. They are using body language to direct to robot to move, to pick up balls, to shoot balls and the move bridges on the playing field.

Some robots have the Kinect sensor built into the robot. FIRST Robotics Team 987 has a Kinect as part of its embedded control system. They are using it for distance calculations and other information to control the robot in real time. They have some cool ideas about non-robotic ideas for the Kinect going forward. Very exciting.

BTW we have some new Kinect for Windows curriculum resources available for download from Faculty Connection. These resources, created by Rob Miles (University of Hull, UK), are arranged into a half-semester course consisting of Lectures, Labs/Demos with Tutorials accompanied by a 57-page ebook. It contains information on the Windows Kinect sensor bar, the Windows Kinect SDK v1.0 and how to write Kinect programs/apps. It assumes a working knowledge of the C# programming language, the XNA framework and program development using Visual Studio.

These materials can be used as follows:

  • Integrated into a CS course, such as Programming 2, HCI, Computer Graphics, NUI, etc.
  • Two-day instructor led workshop
  • Self-study

Hat tip to Lee Stott who blogged about this first at Kinect for Windows curriculum resources