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Researchers Use Xbox Technology to Improve Programs

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Photo courtesy of Microsoft

University of Texas at Arlington researchers led by professor Vassilis Athitsos are using Xbox Kinect technology to improve virtual sign language software. Athitsos and his team are adapting their sign language software for use with the Kinect to take advantage of the device's skeletal and depth-tracking system.

Microsoft's Jim Cullinan says the company does not have any legal issues with Athitsos and his team using the Kinect for their research. "We encourage developers, especially those in an educational setting, to come up with ways to expand the usefulness of our technology," Cullinan says.

Athitsos has created a virtual dictionary that uses a webcam to identify American Sign Language signs. However, the webcam's lack of depth perception limits the software, and Athitsos says that developing hardware with the same features as the Kinect would be very expensive.

"To develop our own hardware with the same features as the Kinect could end up costing $2,000, $5,000, or $10,000 per unit," he says. "I would not be comfortable asking someone to pay that much for our system. But when you give someone the option of buying the Kinect for $150, it's a lot easier."

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