South Korea: Using Kinect To Patrol The DMZ

Posted: Feb 3 2014, 11:35pm CST | by , in News | Gaming

South Korea: Using Kinect To Patrol The DMZ
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When it comes to video games, motion controls have always felt gimmicky. As neat as Microsoft’s Kinect sounds on paper, it’s never worked well enough to justify the number of Xbox 360 games that made use of the motion control system.

Nintendo’s Wii was a huge financial success but even so, the motion controls added little more than novelty. The games themselves were never improved in any meaningful way. Quite the contrary.

But video games aren’t the only way the Kinect is being used. The motion and voice detecting sensor has been used in lots of ways, including robot design. And now the Kinect is being used to patrol the border between South and North Korea.

“According to news site Hankooki [...] the Kinect-based system identifies objects crossing the DMZ,” writes Kotaku’s Brian Ashcraft. “It can discern the difference between animals and humans. If the system detects a human, it will alert the nearby outpost. Further details are sparse—probably, because this involves national security.”

The system was developed by Jae Kwan Ko, who also noted that in the future the software will also detect heat and heart-rates, meaning a likely upgrade to the Xbox One sensor is in the works.

In many ways, the Kinect as a surveillance device is a no-brainer. When the Xbox One was announced, Microsoft revealed that the Kinect 2.0 would be required to make the video game console operate, always on and always listening. Fears over the NSA PRISM program bubbled up immediately. Nobody wants a potential spying device in their living rooms.

But I suspect an even more likely application of the Kinect here in the US would be on our own sprawling border with Mexico. While that would be costlier than the relatively short Korean DMZ—the DMZ is just 160 miles long, compared to the 1,954 mile long border with Mexico—fears over illegal immigration have already spawned plenty of expensive border security programs.

Whatever happens, it’s always fascinating to see how technology developed largely for entertainment purposes evolves—sometimes in ways that can change the world for the better, and sometimes the opposite. (Sometimes it really just depends on your politics.)

Meanwhile, we’re on the verge of viable virtual-reality technology with devices like the Oculus Rift looming on the horizon. What other sort of fascinating, non-gaming applications will that technology lead to? We’ll find out soon enough.

Follow me on Twitter or Facebook. Read my Forbes blog here.

Source: Forbes

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