Kinect used to measure weight in zero gravity

Kinect used to measure weight in zero gravity

A body tracking camera system built into Microsoft's Kinect gaming sensor (created by Carmelo Velardo, a French computer scientist at Eurecom (Alpes-Maritimes) research institute), capable of calculating body weight even in zero gravity (space); could soon replace bulky weighing systems, currently used in Space ships.

The body tracking camera is a way to gauge weight just by making a person stand in front of the Microsoft Kinect, a motion gaming peripheral.

Measuring Body weight is a big challenge for Astronauts:

Measuring weight of a body on earth means calculating the force (gravity or gravitational force) with which the body is pulled by Earth towards itself. In space, where there’s no gravity or Zero gravity, measuring one’s body weight is a big challenge; since traditional scales, working on the gravitational pull principle don't work there.

But keeping a watch on body weight is extremely important in Space; as even during missions that last just a few weeks Astronauts can lose up to 15 per cent of their body mass (a 100 kg person closing 15 kgs) because their muscles atrophy(wither or deteriorate or lose mass) due to lack of use. To prevent this physical decline, astronauts spending time in space stations typically spend 2 hours exercising per day.

So how Spacefarers manage to weigh themselves at present?

By using the solution given in 1965 by William Thornton, an American astronaut and doctor.

Thornton, devised a way to measure objects using oscillating springs. Astronauts still use a similar device today, in which they have to mount a stool fitted with a spring that raises and lowers the stool at a frequency that depends on the mass it is acting against. By measuring at the frequency at which an astronaut mounted on the stool oscillates; the weight is calculated.

But, the problem with Thornton’s apparatus is that, it’s bulky and takes too much power to set the stool oscillating.

Not to say, space station is scare on both, power and space (area available) resources.

Carmelo Velardo’s body tracking camera system can be a boon to Space travelers:

Velardo’s new system answers most of the problems faced with the current apparatus. First of all, Velardo’s body tracking Kinect camera system takes literally no space. The system could simply be integrated into the Space station itself (walls). Secondly, it can be run on insignificant amount of power (the same you use while using Kinect with your Xbox360)

How Kinect is used to measure weight even in zero gravity:

Velardo, along with colleagues at the Italian Institute of Technology's Center for Human Space Robotics in Torino, employed the Kinect's depth-sensing ability to create a 3D model of an astronaut. After that, the team did their calculation using a statistical model that links weight to body measurements based on a database of 28,000 people (this sample of 28000 people may have been used to get the average mass of individual body part of a human body like a hand, leg etc.).

Velardo, and the team found that the estimates are 97 per cent accurate, corresponding to an average error of just 2.7 kilograms, which is comparable to the current method used on board the ISS (international Space Station).

What are the limitations in Velardo’s method?

In Space or in conditions of microgravity, water or fluid inside human body shifts inside human body in a non-uniform manner; that’s why body parts may not conform to the weight database created on Earth.

The Kinect system has yet to be tested in space, due to the high cost of launching new equipment. --------

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