Because of the way its camera depicts what it sees, Kinect is being used by researchers to monitor elderly patients for their risk of a fall while still respecting their privacy. The device is helping the University of Missouri's independent living community predict health risks 10 to 14 days before their most serious symptoms manifest.
TigerPlace, the university's residential community that also conducts applied research on elderly care, had been using motion-sensing technology for years to monitor changes in residents' health. Kinect provides a more complete look by capturing data that is easy for MU researchers to analyze. And because it produces a silhouette image, not a full picture, residents don't feel as though their lives are being video recorded.
It's another application of a device whose modifications aren't limited to entertainment experiences. Researchers have found uses for Kinect in assisting the blind, studying mental disorders, and developing search-and-rescue technology for use in disaster recovery.