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Area 3 and Aqvatech Engineering are seeking international partners

An athlete 
Talking about Kinect immediately conjures up the image of an evening at home with friends, playing with a console to enjoy the latest gaming products. Indeed, the best-known use of this Microsoft technology is for gaming, but it has a much broader range of uses, including some that may offer major benefits to research and innovation.

To better understand the applications of the Kinect interface beyond the world of gaming, we should look at it more closely. It is an interface based on a technology that senses human body movements. Unlike other videogame consoles it allows players to control the game via body movements, spoken commands, or objects in the environment, without the need to hold a game controller.

The range of its possible uses extends beyond the world of gaming to healthcare: the Kinect device could be an excellent work tool for doctors, especially in the field of diagnostic imaging. Indeed, it can be used to visualise on a screen the images and tests in a hands-free way, simply by moving one's hands in front of the screen, without needing to use keyboards, mouse or other tools. Therefore, the introduction of Kinect into the ward, studied and developed by a team of researchers in Berne, would speed up the review of imaging tests, and would prevent problems linked to possible contamination of the work environment.

Another interesting application of Kinect technology has been designed by Area 3 and Aqvatech Engineering, two tenant companies at the Alghero branch of the Science and Technology Park of Sardinia, which operate in the sector of sports and wellness technologies. Area 3 and Aqvatech Engineering have joined forces to develop a prototype software which uses Kinect for X-Box to assess the static balance of athletes.

As we have been told by Fulvio Stradijot from Area 3, this software has already been tested in various situations and on different types of sports. For example, it has been tested on 24 young female gymnasts and swimmers as part of the 2011 research project of the Regional Sports School of the Sardinian Branch of the Italian National Olympic Committee - CONI Sardegna. The project really came under the limelight when the app was used on the players of the local A-league basketball team Dinamo-Banco di Sardegna Sassari.

Both athletes and sports medicine professionals have commented very favourably on the use of this new technology. As explained by Stradijot, the Kinect device offers many benefits. First of all, it functions without wires and sensors. Athletes can move freely and unhindered in front of the camera, and test times are substantially shorter. Last but by no means least, Kinect is a low-cost technology.

The prototype app developed by Area 3 and Aqvatech Engineering has been designed thanks to a Regional funding scheme for research and industrial development. After the design phase, the two companies are now planning the next step: industrialisation and marketing of the system. One option would be entering into international partnerships to further develop and refine the end product.

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Sardegna Ricerche - Polaris - Tenant Organisations - Area 3

Sara Palmas