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Hacked Microsoft Kinect Used To Study & Scan Glaciers in Norway

A Ph.D student from the University of California has told of his innovative use of Microsoft’s Xbox 360 motion toy Kinect in researching rare rocks and glacial formations, proving the potential for the gaming gadget is far greater than its original expectations.

Ken Mankoff studies the cryosphere, which means the areas of the Earth’s surface where water is solid such as ice formation in the Arctic. On a recent trek to Norway’s Rieperbreen Glacier, he packed up his trusty Kinect and headed into the sub-zero waters of the Svalbard. Using his Bachelors in Computer Science, Mankoff modded his gaming gadget to scan the frozen floors and surfaces of the caves in 3D after summer had seen nearby icy lakes melt, filling the caverns with a fresh landscape come winter. While most of us enjoy using our Kinect in the comfort of a warm living room, Mankoff studies to help understand the movement of ice in places in climates where many men dare not tread.

Mankoff is sponsored in his studies by NASA, who was saved a pretty penny when the student chose to use a £120 Microsoft Kinect over sensitive scanning equipment worth thousands, and the he says “I’ve always enjoyed repurposing cheap devices, doing things that you’re not supposed to do with them.”

We’ve previously discussed the use of Kinect in aiding surgical operations. Read our feature – Here.

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