You may think what does an Xbox module have to do with manufacturing? The answer is simple, it is the intuitiveness and rich experience it provides that made many software providers to the manufacturing industry rush to use the Kinect SDK for Windows. Kinect provides great ways for users to interact with software through gestures and voice. There are many scenarios in manufacturing environments that could benefit from such natural ways of interaction. This post examines some of these scenarios:

In the chemical, food and beverage, or pharmaceutical industries, lab engineers and workers find themselves having to work in sterile environments where they would be better off not touching certain equipment as the slightest pollution could lead to serious consequences in the research they are conducting. In such circumstances, it would help to use Kinect to interact with software that is used to run such experiments and eliminate the possibility of humans contaminating ingredients or equipment that could cause bad results or conclusions. This scenario can also be extended to the semi-conductor industry where chips and integrated circuit boards are printed in completely sterile environments.

Workers on an oil rig in the oil and gas industry, or in other manufacturing operations environments, often find themselves having to wear heavy gloves to deal with machines and equipment under extreme conditions of heat, cold, wind, etc. Under such circumstances, it helps to use gesture or voice to interact with software running or controlling such equipment as using keyboards or mice would be unpractical.

The Kinect cameras can be utilized to achieve facial recognition of users as they try to log into systems or even go through physical security barriers, such as gates and doors. Based on their identity, users can be ushered in or denied entry. They also could be granted the right access based on their privileges. With this, Kinect could serve as the gateway that allows people to easily access the systems and areas they are allowed to access without delay and without having to remember numerous difficult passwords.

Even in vehicles, auto makers could leverage the Kinect technology to constantly monitor facial expressions of drivers and alert them when they get into dangerous conditions, such as sleepiness, and get them to correct their course of action.

Engineers could leverage Kinect technology to replace expensive large touch displays with much cheaper ones that they can interact with through gesture and voice allowing them to perform their collaborative design more efficiently and at lower cost.

Manufacturers can use Kinect to train their workers on dangerous equipment, or equipment that are used in hazardous areas (such as oil rigs or chemical processing plants) by establishing virtual training rooms. Training in these simulated conditions helps workers face real world situations with much more preparedness and familiarity.

These are only a few scenarios where Kinect technology can be used in a manufacturing environment. Microsoft partners are already hard at work building solutions based on this technology. If you can think of more scenarios for using Kinect in a manufacturing environment, (or other industries), or have a comment on this post, please provide such feedback below.