The Kinect sensor isn’t just for gaming any more. Microsoft is working with Kuka to create a new safer kind of manufacturing robot.
The response to Microsoft’s Kinect has been lukewarm in the gaming community, as The Inquisitr previously reported. After the introduction of the Xbox One device, the original had lost support on Windows.
Even less than a year after being bundled with the Xbox One, the Kinect 2.0 was met with such disinterest that Microsoft had to stop forcing gamers to buy it, dropping the price of the Xbone to a more competitive $400. This gave the console a chance to catch up with the PlayStation 4, which was already selling faster due to its less expensive launch price.
While the Kinect sensor is still given as an option for Xbox One users, Microsoft has decided to find other ways to use the technology. The manufacturing industry may be a surprising place to find it, but the device could easily cut down on the number of human injuries.
In most production plants, the machines used in building everything from the Xbox One to the latest Jeep Wrangler usually work so quickly that if a human came within a few feet, that person could be risking serious personal injury. Microsoft’s technology will help keep that from happening, by detecting when a foreign heat signature is nearby and slowing down, possibly even stopping.
While it might cut down production momentarily, the fact is that machines are easier to fix than people. This technology could also make it easier to make sudden repairs if the machine is malfunctioning. The engineer wouldn’t have to find the “off switch” to troubleshoot, though it would technically be safer to do so.
Kuka’s Intelligent Industrial Work Assistant will take the sensor and possibly even perform complicated tasks on its own, says Forbes. What this means is that we might actually have robots repairing robots using sensors to keep tabs on their surroundings. Again, this will help ensure less human injury.
— Allison Linn (@allisondlinn) April 17, 2015
Thanks to the Kinect sensor, you will theoretically be able to walk straight through a production facility full of busy robots and reach the other side unharmed. They will pause and let you pass by before resuming activity.
Kuka says that this will make human and robot interactions much safer.
“The combination with Microsoft Azure Internet of Things (IoT) services, Kinect hardware and the OPC-UA communication standard leads to one of the world’s first showcases blending IT with robotic technologies into a smart manufacturing solution with new capabilities.”
What do you think about the introduction of the Kinect sensor into the manufacturing industry?
[Image via Channel 9]