PORTLAND, Ore. -- Microsoft Robotics has been giving away its free Robotics Developer Studio, complete with a 3D simulator, for the last six years, but without gaining much visibility.
Microsoft, however, is convinced that will change Wednesday (July 13th) when the company launches added services that allow users to plug the Kinect hands-free hardware--intended for gesture control of its Xbox gaming console--directly into any robot.
In essence, the Kinect will add eyes and ears to any robot, which can be controlled with sophisticated gesture recognition running on an embedded Windows based computer.
Microsoft’s Robotics Developer Studio users will not just have access raw data either, but will also be able to access all of Kinect's sophisticated pattern recognition algorithms that enable the Xbox to be controlled with gestures. In other words, now roboticists using the Robotics Developer Studio will be able to control their robotics with gestures.
"Kinect's SDK [software development kit] can now be used with our free Robotics Developer Studio to create natural user interfaces for robots with full access to Kinect smart routines like skeletal recognition," said Stathis Papaefstathiou, General Manager, Microsoft Robotics. "In addition, we know from our user base that Kinect can also be useful for autonomous navigation scenarios."
This fall, Papaefstathiou promises that his software development group will add new routines to directly support autonomous navigation tasks. Developers will also have access to the routines controlling the four-microphone array in the Kinect, including its sophisticated noise cancellation and beam steering operations.
While users are prohibited from developing commercial products with the Kinect SDK, non-profits will be able to add the navigation algorithms that enable robots to use Kinect to follow paths, plan routes and generally re-enact the types of behaviors that search-and-rescue robots can now only perform by remote control.
Last year Microsoft acquired the fabless chip maker, Canesta Inc. (Sunnyvale, Calif.) which makes a chip-level pattern recognition engine. Canesta’s engine is said to outperform the PrimeSensor which Microsoft is currently licensing from PrimeSense Ltd. (Tel-Aviv, Israel) for its Kinect.
When Microsoft commercializes the Canesta-invented chip-level work-alike of the PrimeSensor, it will be able to downsize the foot-long Kinect to about a square centimeter, enabling tiny robots and other mobile devices, such as the Windows Phone, to perform sophisticated gesture recognition for natural user interfaces, autonomous navigation and many other tasks.
R2D2, here we come!
Melonee Wise has already put together a tutorial on how to connect a
Kinect to an iRobot at ROS.org, a nonprofit community site for hosting
open-source robotics software.
This is going to add a lot of interest to the Robotics Developer Studio. A reasonably complete vision subsystem adds a major amount of capability to the software. Is this the catalyst needed to change it into a tool for developing serious applications instead of interesting toys?
Kinect hands free hardware by microsoft robotics intended for gesture control of its Xbox gaming console directly into any robot with the Robotics Developer Studio with a 3D simulator will make it easy to develope applications very fast.
It's great to have SDKs and standard APIs; it means applications can be developed faster. However, I am disappointed that users will be prohibited from developing commercial applications. This restriction will stifle innovation and productivity.
This has been a long time in coming! Glad to see Microsoft starting to expand the Kinect into the natural space it was destined to play in. I wonder if they would release a version that works with Linux? :})
I don't understand the prohibition from making commercial products with this. Sure, hobbyists can have fun, but it seems to me that there's a lot of real commercial potential here.
Can anyone shed some light on that restriction? Does MS have a separate commercial licensing program?
Later this year Microsoft will announce its own 3D imaging technology that it acquired from Canesta last year. This will be a single chip, owned by Microsoft, that does everything that Kinect does. Kinect is NOT Microsoft's technology, but just licensed from PrimeSense. This is probably behind the non-commercial prohibition. If you want to go commercial, contact Microsoft about its forthcoming single-chip solution.
The move will surely enable wider application. I find the downsizing of Kinect (I can't believe I love downsizing.) being exciting. If a Windows Mobile enabled smartphone can do what Kinect can, who knows what's going to happen to Microsoft-Nokia alliance.
For comercial apps... how about a sign language interpreter/translator.?
how about being able to control your phone with touchless gestures.
This is opening a whole new line for user interfaces. I think it a good strike MS is making... Apple brought the touch screen interface, MS is bringing the Kinect interface. Is it called 3d gesture controller?
Good question, what will happen to the MS-Nokia alliance? Will it rise? I bet use cases are already being designed.
Perhaps this technology could be used to show the irobot with gestures where to retrieve something, where to vacuum (Roomba does a poor job of understanding the layout of a cluttered environment), or even where not to go. It could also be used to model the desired actions at a distance in a hazardous environment.
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