Create Kinect 3D Avatars Using Your Body

No programming required, some artistic ability necessary

1 min read
Create Kinect 3D Avatars Using Your Body

Last week, we showed you how Microsoft's new Kinect API lets you use your hands to draw on a painting program. But how about using gestures to create 3D models of any shape that you can use as Kinect avatars? No problem! That's exactly what Microsoft Research's Beijing team showed early this month at the company's TechFest 2013.

In the video above, researcher Xiang Cao demoes their Kinect BodyAvatar, which lets you build a 3D avatar of any shape you can imagine, using your body as input. No need to master complex 3D modeling tools or programming, though some artistic ability certainly helps. And granted, the avatars still look like blobs of playdough, but as the researchers refine the technology, characters will start looking better.

But before you get too excited, BodyAvatar didn’t come out in Monday's Kinect for Windows SDK release. Let's hope Microsoft includes it in a future update, but even if that doesn't happen, users should be able to create their own BodyAvatar-like tool using some of Kinect's new capabilities.

In the video playlist below, you can see some of the possibilities of the new SDK: Kinect's new gesture recognition interactions; Kinect Fusion's 3D modeling feature; and a demo of Kinect Fusion used for augmented reality. 

Ready for some hacking? Download the SDK here.

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The Bionic-Hand Arms Race

The prosthetics industry is too focused on high-tech limbs that are complicated, costly, and often impractical

12 min read
A photograph of a young woman with brown eyes and neck length hair dyed rose gold sits at a white table. In one hand she holds a carbon fiber robotic arm and hand. Her other arm ends near her elbow. Her short sleeve shirt has a pattern on it of illustrated hands.

The author, Britt Young, holding her Ottobock bebionic bionic arm.

Gabriela Hasbun. Makeup: Maria Nguyen for MAC cosmetics; Hair: Joan Laqui for Living Proof

In Jules Verne’s 1865 novel From the Earth to the Moon, members of the fictitious Baltimore Gun Club, all disabled Civil War veterans, restlessly search for a new enemy to conquer. They had spent the war innovating new, deadlier weaponry. By the war’s end, with “not quite one arm between four persons, and exactly two legs between six,” these self-taught amputee-weaponsmiths decide to repurpose their skills toward a new projectile: a rocket ship.

The story of the Baltimore Gun Club propelling themselves to the moon is about the extraordinary masculine power of the veteran, who doesn’t simply “overcome” his disability; he derives power and ambition from it. Their “crutches, wooden legs, artificial arms, steel hooks, caoutchouc [rubber] jaws, silver craniums [and] platinum noses” don’t play leading roles in their personalities—they are merely tools on their bodies. These piecemeal men are unlikely crusaders of invention with an even more unlikely mission. And yet who better to design the next great leap in technology than men remade by technology themselves?

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