Drill-based Kinect Camera

[Brett Graham] and [David Cox] are taking the Kinect out into the world thanks to this handheld hack they call the Drill of Depth. Apparently, the Kinect wants 12V at 1A which is quite easy to provide with a rechargeable power tool like this Ryobi drill. The setup features a 4.3″ touchscreen display, connected to the Gumstix Overo Air that is running Linux. They claim that there’s a “legitimate scientific reason” for building the device but they’re not sharing it yet.

So what would you use this for? We wonder if it would be possible to roll a GPS into the mix, then use post processing from the captured data to recreate the environment in a virtual setting? Imagine if a weekend spent walking around campus and processing the results let you model your University and make it an add-on level for your favorite game. Or perhaps this could be paired with a regular camera to generate high-quality 3D skinning data for Google Earth. That’s what we came up with, what do you think?

42 thoughts on “Drill-based Kinect Camera

  1. For greater precision and usefulness you’d probably want to use an accelerometer/gyro rather than GPS for position logging.

    My guess for its use would be hand-held digitization in 3D.

  2. While we are on the subject of Kinect connected to weird things, am I the only one who wants Kinect inside my microwave? Paired up with an infrared thermometer, it could sense the volume, shape and temperature of my Hot Pocket, and ensure that it is perfectly heated. Im kind of joking, but I’m also NOT JOKING AT ALL.

  3. “lol, it would be awesome to model a university into your favorite shoot em up game XD”

    As soon as I got my hands on a BSP editor I converted my high schools blueprints into a Doom level. I thought every nerd did that kind of thing.

  4. I see greater uses for this. A handheld device that translates your environment into something more usable. For example, someone almost completely blind or with severe cataracts might not be able to determine objects but can identify colors or other items up close. The device could “scan” and report…if objects were in the way in the next few feet, if there was an incline or decline in the surface, if there was a curb or a fast moving object such as a car. It could become much like a digital walking cane for the blind… even if you couldn’t see, the device could offer a “force feedback” to indicate upcoming objects in your path by turning the drill motor with an offset weight attached to make it vibrate.

    Further this could be used as an electronic tape measure. Point the device and the software determines length, height and even depth of an object.

    I could think of SOOO many uses for a handheld computer that can see in “3d” with the capabilities of the Kinect.

  5. Yes don’t try to model your school for gaming purposes. It can be misinterpreted, tried to model my school the old fashion way to import using the unreal engine and my teacher LOVED the fact. So he would brag about our progress til a dean heard and we had to scrap the project. for some reason they didn’t like the idea of modeling the school to import into a game that we can shoot each other from, hmm I wonder why.

  6. >for some reason they didn’t like the idea of modeling the school to import into a game that we can shoot each other from, hmm I wonder why.

    Because for some reason there is no limit to human dumbness. Like being able to do it in a video game had ANY link to doing it in real life… I know LOTS and I mean really LOTS of people who DID NOT go in to a cinema killing people after playing duke nukem…
    I think whoever canceled the project should be banned from education for his whole life. He showed his total ignorance in propaedeutics.
    My 2 cents

    1. Simple, the Kinect uses an Infrared laser array and IR camera to track depth in low/no light settings so any apparition that distorts the lasers would show up. This contraption could prove to be a huge breakthrough in affordable ghost hunting equipment. If you own a kinect, just check out the Kinect Tuner or even the gray screen in the corner of the dashboard and you will see the IR in action. This could prove very useful in paranormal investigation especially since you can easily swap batteries for minimal loss of coverage.

  7. this is really cool! curious to see what they do with it…

    btw i recreated my entire highschool in WorldCraft, so i could play it as a counterstrike level with my buddies. Had a kind of eerie feeling, walking down the hallway with a machine gun… glad the administration never got wind of it. still have it in fact.

  8. I know not what tools the world will use in the future, but i do know that all of it will be used to make porn….

    I could see this being used in industrial applications as well, hook it up to a robot as a 3d live map so it knows where to go to and what to do, if a part is not up to quality, send to destruction.

  9. IED hunting, if robots cruised through areas on a regular schedule they could detect new pieces of debris or parts of buildings that are ‘out of spec’. Granted you’d get loads of noise from every water bottle and plastic bag that gets blown into the street.

  10. @Marco
    Me too. I made maps for TFC, HLDM and CS out of the fire evacuation plans for the schools I went to.

    Some guys in the office were just talking about making some TFC or TF2 maps using mirror images of the office and building(rather small 5 floor bldg).

  11. I can see wanting a level based on your university or what-have-you for novelty, but from some of the comments, people really think that scanned meshes would be better for games than hand-modeled meshes. Seriously?

    1) Name five places you’ve been that were cooler/better designed than the best video game environments you’ve seen. Do you want a bunch of suburbs and supermarkets in your games?

    2) Speaking as a modeler with a bit of experience in game-targeted modeling, I’d bet my left hand that any meshes resultant from this device would have terribly inefficient vertex use (especially if you want to animate the mesh) and would almost be impossible to edit to something manageable and actually useful in a game.

    I’ve seen laser-scanned models, and while they are accurate and render nicely, there is no way they would be practical for the real-time rendering demanded by video games.

    I CAN see this tool being used to quickly generate low quality and inefficient models. Low quality and inefficient is probably a great trade-off for whatever the designers have planned for it.

    What I don’t like is people saying that a machine meant to interpret our mostly-unimpressive world could even come close to the beautiful models the pros create. It’s like saying that photographs are more beautiful than paintings.

    This post will probably come off as combative or even as flamebait, and for that I’m sorry. All the posts about how great this would be for games just really rubbed me the wrong way for some reason.

  12. Well it is an infrared sensor. Great for night vision in 3D.

    yah and sun would really mess with the device. So indoor use or night use only.

    3d porn scans!

    i’ve done my house and my work office in UT2004. even designed dell monitors in cad and imported them in for that perfect touch.

    simple handheld 3D scanner would be great to have in my line of work. Could use it to scan 3d models of parts for replication. would be cool to have it create STL files for SLA machines. reprap machines.

    probably doesn’t high macro resolution on that camera. maybe 3d copies of car parts. fenders bumbers etc…

  13. The next step in terms of physical design of the portability would be to make it stealthy, like incorporating the camera setup into a hat, that way you could take stealthy scans of places/people.

  14. I’ve always assumed that this tech would be used for surveillance purposes. Instead of having a flat grainy picture of everyone who walks into a business or public space, imagine having a full 3d textured mesh to sort, analyze, and assess whatever yo want about them.

    Other than that, I think it would be cool to have on cars for obstacle avoidance and as advanced backup sensors. Instead of annoying beeping sounds when you get too close to someone, an overhead view of the cars surrounding you can be overlay on the windshield to show you exactly how much space is available. Add some triggers to the steering wheel and you can play an augmented reality version of Spy Hunter.

  15. I too wanted to model my university into a game (Thief, not a FPS technically), but was discouraged from doing so from some upperclassmen that had tried the same using an FPS.
    Apparently modeling your university to steal from others is not acceptable either.

  16. @Cam “Because we can” is an engineering, not scientific reason. They promise they have a legitimate scientific reason… which means learning something about the world as it really is.

  17. The drill has a battery – I “get” that.

    But it also has a motor. Why do they need the motor?

    So they need the drill functionality too.

    So this is obviously using the kinect for depth-gauge functionality in precision drilling.

    Either in a machine-tool shop, carpentry, or in the application of torture. (example: if you need to drill into a person’s skull, you don’t want to actually penetrate the brain, which would kill them, just drill into the bone, to intimidate the victim . . . but this requires fairly precise control of depth). Yes. I’m certain they’re using it for torture. Which, I believe, violates the GPL.

  18. Here is a list of some other kinect hacks.
    10. And there was light. And it was good.
    9. Ivy Needs a Sports Bra
    8. A Keyboard Anywhere
    7. Acrobatic Yoga and Multiple Realities
    6. Awesome 3D Tetris
    5. We are going to pump [clap] you up!
    4. Snake?! SNAAAAAAAAKE! (Optical Camouflage)
    3. Next step: Johnny Cab (Autonomous Robot Car)
    2. Skynet Hunter-Killer Version 1.0 (Quadrotor Atonomous Flight)
    1. At-Home Virtual Reality

    10 Best Kinect Hacks So Far (LIST)

  19. @RoboGuy

    I’m not convinced it is a case of one verses the other. A lot of artistic inspiration comes from things people see around them but modified. I envisage 3D scanning become more prevalent in game design but expect there to be a high degree of modification from the original scans. Textures can be collected in isolation from models and combined in different ways etc.

    Decent mesh simplification is a bit tricky, but if this kind of work becomes more common place then great powerful software will emerge to make this easier.

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