Graphics & Media Lab and Microsoft Research Cambridge have announced a contest for applications that use Kinect sensor. The authors of the five brightest apps will be funded to attend the 2012 Microsoft Research PhD summer school. I blogged about the last year's event in my previous post. Details of the contest are here.
I guess there's no need to explain what Kinect is. It is extremely successful combined colour and depth sensor by Microsoft. It is being distributed for killer price (≈$150) as an add-on for Xbox, although it is hard to imagine the range of possible applications. Controlling a computer only by gestures is considered as a primer of natural user interface. To name some applications beyond gaming, this kind of NUI is useful to help surgeons to keep their hands clean:
Kinect helps blind people to navigate through buildings:
For more ideas look at the winners of OpenNI challenge.
OpenNI is an open-source alternative to Kinect SDK. Its strong point is it is integrated with PCL, but beware that you cannot use it for the contest. Only Kinect for Windows SDK is allowed.
Kinect is probably the most successful commercial outcome from the Microsoft Research lab. MSR is unique because they do a lot of theoretical research there, and it is unclear if it is profitable for Microsoft to fund it. But the projects like Kinect reveal the doubts. I will post about MSR organization in comparison to other industrial labs in one of the later posts.