The Kinecthesia is a Kinect wired to a set of motors that allows the blind to navigate a room or open space, relying on feedback through the motors to assess objects in their path. The project, created by University of Pennsylvania students Eric Berdinis and Jeff Kiske, is worn like a belt and can sense objects in 3D space.
Obviously this is a bit clunky – the Kinect isn’t quite wearable just yet. They’re working on 2.0 of the project, using a slimmed-down Kinect removed from its case and a new processor, the Beagleboard (rather than the Beagleboard XM). The project is so unique and clever that I’m surprised no one has made something similar before although I’m sure there are proprietary solutions that cost thousands.
The guys did a great job at Google Zeitgeist Americas this year, including getting interviewed by Chelsea Clinton – a high point for any sane start-up founder.