Kinect Hacked to Teleconference, Is Now Cooler Than Skype

[Photo: MIT Media Lab]
A quick show of hands: How many of you actually enjoy video conferences if you can't be there in person? They can be kind of awkward when you could probably say what you want to an IM conversation. But another Kinect hack just might have taken the awkwardness out of video conferencing--and made them quite cool in the process.

The Kinected Conference by MIT Media Lab uses all kinds of tricks to help improve people's focus and discussions through video conferencing. For instance, if you are faced with a few people around a table on the screen, the Kinect can pick up which person is talking and blur the other faces out, keeping focus on the speaker (demonstrated above). It also times how long someone has been speaking (useful for timed presentations), freeze frame if you want to do something else but make it look like you are listening, and use augmented reality for making projects.

It's done by using C++ software and openFrameworks library, plus two networked locations with video screens, the Kinect, calibrated microphones, and a lot of algorithms (see the map plan). Check out the video below and convince yourself that you don't wish you could use this at work.

[Kinected Conference via Engadget]

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