Researchers from Dundee University (Dundee, UK) have shown how Microsoft's Kinect camera can be used to control optical tweezers that use highly focused laser beams to trap, move and rotate particles as small as cells.
Widely used in labs across the world since the 1970s, optical tweezers have many applications, but finding an interface with which to control them has long proved problematic for physicists.
Dr. David McGloin and his team at the applied optical manipulation group at the university spotted the potential to use the Kinect technology as a possible solution to the problem.
They developed an interface - called HoloHands - that allows scientists to use the Kinect camera to pick up and push the particles on a computer screen by moving their bodies. By waving their hand, users can create a trapping region to hold the particles which can then be picked up and moved with further arm and hand movements.
The team has tested the HoloHands interface by moving silica microspheres using the lab's infrared holographic laser system.
Before it can be used for research purposes, however, HoloHands must be refined further to overcome the time lags and misinterpretations of body movement familiar to Kinect users.
A technical paper entitled "HoloHands: Kinect Control of Optical Tweezers" can be found here.
Related news items on the Microsoft Kinect that you might also find of interest.
1. Kinect API makes low-cost 3-D imaging systems attainable
Microsoft's Kinect is stirring up new interest in 3-D imaging due to its low cost and 'hack-ability' by novices and experts alike.
2. Free toolkit helps Labview developers interface to the Kinect
Researchers from the school of mechanical engineering at Leeds University (Leeds, UK) have created a LabVIEW application programming interface (API) for Microsoft's Kinect software development toolkit (SDK).
3. Kinect system tracks household objects
Two researchers from the Department of Computer Science at the University of Virginia (Charlottesville, VA, USA) have developed algorithms that can be used with Microsoft Kinect hardware to locate and track household objects.
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