Cheap price has NASA and other scientists Kinect’ing

NASA scientists have been using Microsoft Kinect to “create hologram-like images, build 3-D models of homes and even make robots do push-ups” reports The NASA scientists may even teleconference in three dimensions using the Kinect.

These researchers at the NASA Astrobiology Institute outside Mountain View are are to cheaply teleconference and share 3-D data, using Kinect along with software developed at UC Davis.

The Menlo Park technology incubator, Willow Garage is also sponsoring a contest for the “most interesting new use of the Kinect’s depth sensor with a robot.” Early entries have reportedly shown robots with their arms, making the robots do push-ups and other tasks.

“We’ve always had sensors like these available, but they were very expensive,” said Tim Conley, the contest’s senior software engineer at Willow Garage. “As soon as the Kinect came out, everyone in the office could buy one. When something is cheap and almost disposable, you can play with it in ways you wouldn’t with something that’s much more expensive. You can endanger it.”

Another scienctist, Patrick Bouffard at UC Berkeley usesKinect to control a remote-controlled helicopter.