Kinect motion sensors are being used by a school in Minneapolis to identify the early signs of autism in young children.
Over the past few years we've seen the Kinect's innovative technology being hacked in countless ways, whether it's to make your room a touchscreen, talk to your pet when you're away, create a robot that dances around, flush a toilet so you don't have to or even to peel off your own skin and take a peek at what's underneath.
Now although we don't doubt some of these hacks are pretty damn clever and handy (who wants to flush a toilet themselves when a computer can do it for them?!), the Kinect has also been put to work on a number of projects that could have a positive impact on healthcare, treatment and the way we diagnose illnesses in the future.
Over the past few months a school in Minneapolis has been using a number of Kinect motion sensors to watch the movements children make as they play and learn in an attempt to work out whether they may show early signs of autism.
Researchers at the Shirley G. Moore Laboratory School have positioned the gaming sensors all around the classroom in order to record the children's movements as they play. These recordings are then combined with a series of computer-vision algorithms, that are specially designed to detect abnormalities and flag up the individuals that are moving and behaving differently to the rest.
Although it's still in its infancy, the system could help us identify behavioural problems in children much earlier than we would using modern day methods, meaning teachers and parents can give them the care they need right away.
Guillermo Sapiro, who along with a larger team has helped to develop the system, said:
"The idea is not that we are going to replace the diagnosis, but we are going to bring diagnosis to everybody [...] The same way a good teacher flags a problem child, the system will do automatic flagging and say, 'Hey, this kid needs to see an expert'."