Kinect's finding its way into more and more areas of research as a comparatively cheap way to create 3D images. The camera's particularly gaining ground amongst health practitioners, and now we've heard of Kinect being used for gait analysis and rehab.
The uses in gait analysis — the study of how people walk — are being developed separately by both Missouri University and by students from Oak Ridge High School, Tennessee. Equipment to monitor people's walking exists already, but is expensive and usually requires use in a specialized testing environment. Missouri's working in collaboration with Americare's Tiger Place senior housing, where the cameras are being installed into residents' apartments to collect data and analyse their movement in everyday situations. The data this generates is able to act as an early warning system to forthcoming health issues for the residents, including fall risks, illness, or mobility impairment. Advanced warnings like these can be crucial in preventing injury and maintaining quality of life. Oak Ridge's system, developed by students Ziyuan Liu and Cassee Cain, has similar applications, providing advanced movement analysis for physiotherapy. The pair's work has been recognized by the national Siemens Competition for high school science, winning them a shared $100,000 college scholarship.
Meanwhile, at the Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading, UK, Kinect games are being used to help rehabilitate stroke patients. Titles such as Kinectimals and Kinect Bowling help redevelop coordination following a trauma. Doctors say that the ability to focus on natural movements and activities is vastly beneficial over the traditional physiotherapy where patients would be stretched and pulled to rebuild sensation and muscle strength.