Many of the hacks we’ve seen for the Kinect, interesting as they are, are aimed at entertainment or just plain coolness. There are plenty of exceptions, though, like the medical monitor we heard about yesterday, or the several telepresence robots we’ve seen that have a multitude of uses.
This hack definitely belongs in the latter category; helping blind people see? I don’t think Microsoft imagined their family-friendly controller would end up like this. But they better be proud.
It’s a project by grad students Michael Zollner and Stephan Huber at the Universität Konstanz in Germany; they used everything from duct tape to Sugru to Arduino and put together this human-mountable system that looks where you look and looks for relevant data. That could be anything from upcoming obstacles to optically-accessible information like QR codes.
You can read more over at the Human-Computer Interactions blog entry. It’s really amazing what can be done with off-the-shelf components these days. I don’t think I’d believe it if I was told five years ago what we’d have available.