Xbox Kinect can offer a low cost solution that helps identify respiratory problems

Kareem Anderson


Some could argue that Microsoft’s Kinect endeavor was never realized despite being among the fastest-sold consumer products in recent years. Microsoft’s vision for the Kinect was unfortunately tied to the swaying opinions of gamers, and at some point many of them realized they could do without the beefed-up sensor for gaming.

Unwittingly, Microsoft crammed so much tech into the Kinect sensor that the device is seeing a revival in use cases in the medical and health industry. Recently, researchers from several universities and institutes believe that they can use Kinect to assess the respiratory functions of patients and monitor conditions such as cystic fibrosis.

Kinect and identifying respiratory problems
Kinect and identifying respiratory problems.

A handful of participants from the Institute of Digital Healthcare, WMG, University of Warwick and the Institute of Inflammation and Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust (HEFT) have already begun testing and found the results to be as accurate modern techniques currently in use. Using four Kinect sensors placed around a person, doctors and researchers can grab quick 3D renders of patient’s torsos that prove to be as accurate as a patient breathing into a spirometer. Due to some other tech built into the Kinect doctors and researchers can also get additional information about how a patient’s chest moves, ideally, identifying other potential respiratory issues.

Furthermore, on the Warwick News and Events blog, it’s being reported that the use of the Kinect prototypes are not only medically on par, but also a cost saving technique.

We have developed a low-cost prototype which provides a more comprehensive measurement of a patient’s breathing than existing methods.”

There are plans to further flush out the prototypes design in collaboration with Microsoft by using the updated Kinect 2, to monitor and assess cystic fibrosis as well as other breathing related issues. While the Kinect may have been a short-lived gaming experiment by many accounts, it is evident that the tech involved is more than powerful enough to find new life in other industries.