Would a “kinnected” classroom damage the OLPC goal

The Microsoft Kinect device has various practical uses in the classroom. I have blogged about it a few times but some thinking today has made me question if the focus we should have in a classroom is towards many to one or if we should be putting more focus and investment into OLPC.

I was thinking if you were given a choice to control the teachers white board would you rather do it with a device in front of you or would you rather do it with some sort of augmented control on your desk/in the air?

One to many or many to one?

I think that personalized learning dictates each child should have their own device but that only really currently makes sense if the kids have learned fine motor skills to control the devices.

Story telling etc. can receive additional immersion with real time physical space feedback. That is where the Kinect comes into it’s own IMHO.. Before any Apple fan girls start moaning that I’m jumping on the MS bandwagon I think you should remember that I’m talking about the Kinect like it is the only space aware tool available because IT IS. The depth perception market isn’t an iPod style market where Apple out-market Sony even though there product is inferior. If there were other options I would be considering them.

Problems with space

The huge problem is that Kinect requires a huge amount of physical space in the room for the user. Sure it can handle 2 or 3 people but it would struggle to differentiate between different users(pupils) in a reception/nursery class.

So where does a Kinect style control fit in?

Are classrooms too small?  Various Educational Technology Leaders are currently experimenting with it’s place in the classroom.  Consolarium up in Scotland powered by the mighty Derek Robertson are doing some fantastic things and I’m looking forward to their feedback.

Is the Kinect unable to differentiate between enough users?  I think this is more likely the case.  So if it could that would be awesome..

Is 1 kinect per child an unrealistic expecation?

Of course it is, initially..  But in the future when Kinect type technology is included with OLPC why not consider the entire desk space virtual space?  How about multiple kinects in a classroom (one in each corner) being able to compute 3d space.  With this type of connectivity the kinect could figure out which desk a pupil is at and turn that desk into a control mechanism to either a) collaborate with the teacher on the IWB or to collaborate with other pupils…

What is the likely first step for Kinect outside of the XBOX world?

I have given the PT Installs team a budget to develop a new product that is useful for EYFS as we think that is the initial location where the Kinect plugged into a PC will be most fruitful.   We want to move away from the console lock ins for various obvious reasons.   I can’t say for obvious political reasons what our first project will be but expect to see something in and around the 2013/14 period.

I would expect the initial cost to be around the £500 mark which is roughly the cost of 2 devices per child and should (in theory) be able to leverage a large amount of content already available on the market.

So will a “kinnected” classroom damage the OLPC goal?

In theory it should aid it by giving kids a more natural way of interacting and becoming confident with using technology.

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Using Kinect to teach control?

Let’s face it, the “forward 3,left,forward 2” type of programming is dead.

How about Kinect watches you do something then programs a robot to do it by copying your movements?

The same logic applies, you are dictating how an electronic device interacts with a physical space but in a much more natural (human gestures) way.

Watch the video to get a better idea of what I’m trying to explain.

Oh and at the risk of supporting Microsoft (2 posts in a week, I know it’s crazy.) here is a reminder that Microsoft still suck really bad from time to time (although they are getting better imho).

Microsoft Kinect shows potential – Your classroom next?

Unless you have been living in a dark shell for the last 6 months you will know about Microsoft kinect. In my opinion the advertising for kinect doesn’t show the actual potential of the kinect technology. I think the most promising aspect of Kinect is the Speech recognition and it looks like Microsoft may of actually got this right..

Each bing = good.

So it appears to work, and if we can just say, y’know. Collect 3 stars there is no need for incidents like this:

This video shows the potential of using Kinect’s depth perception to control a user interface with multitouch.

Finally, The facial recognition is supposed to really good. Sounds like the Kinect hardware is going to be a winner. I don’t know what % of users will end up owning a 360 so my recommendation to you is to treat the Kinect as a separate platform.

If you are a developer I would consider focusing on preparing your offline and online material for “Kinect aware” devices. If Kinect aware adobe flash content begins popping up it could create a whole new market place and genre of game.

This video shows how the Kinect can replace a conventional smart board:

This video shows it’s potential use to control puppets!! Awesome!

Here is a video that demonstrates how game creators are compensating poor control quality by adding auto steering to make the gaming experience feel less detached..

This is nice, it shows using multiple Kinects to map a physical space to a 3d model.

Remind anyone of the Eyes to the front proposal I did?

Kinect gesture recognition controlling web browser(chrome)

Some guy in Essex has written a driver for controlling Windows 7 (sort of like a touch screen)

If MS release face detection as part of an API then a simple facial detection system for class registration.

Kinect could also be used as a tool for assigning IWB control to pupils.

I think we should look past the obvious of just UI control in a touchscreen format, we must remember the potential for depth.

Here we can see a kinect being used to pass control from one user to another..