UK Government sends Kinect to fight ebola

Gesture sensitive kiosk helps people learn if they've caught the disease

UK Government sends Kinect to fight ebola
17th February, 2015 By Ian Morris

It's a bit early for April fools, isn't it? Strangely enough, this is one of those "so weird it's actually true" stories, as the UK Government, or more specifically, the Army and contractor CDS have sent a shipment of Kinect sensors to Africa, to help fight the spread of ebola.

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While our first thought may have been "how does stroking a fluffy tiger help fight ebola?", there's actually a little bit more to it than simply getting all the healthy people to stick together and play Kinect games until the danger has passed. Instead, Kinect has been worked into an interactive, touchless, gesture powered kiosk that will help "provide instructions to suspected ebola victims". With so many different languages being spoken across the African countries - there are over 12 official languages in Mali alone - they needed to find a way to let people choose their language without having to touch a controller or screen, which would bring with it the risk of spreading the disease further. Step in Kinect, and a custom Windows 8.1 powered kiosk.

Kinectimals Screenshot

If only stroking fluffy tigers really could cure ebola...

Still, even though Kinect v2 - otherwise known as the Xbox One's uprated Kinect sensor - is the hardware of choice, this still seems like a bit of an unusual decision. As anyone who's used the sensor will tell you, it's not the most accurate machine at the best of times, in the best of conditions - yet alone in an emergency centre in an African country in the middle of an outbreak of a deadly disease. While the voice recognition is fine, and could have provided an easy enough way of selecting a language, instead they've gone with the oft dodgy gesture detection - which may end up causing more problems than it solves.

Still, it could be worse. At least they don't have to swipe left or right to say whether they do or don't have a symptom - and rely on Kinect to be able to decide which way they'd swiped. If they did, we could expect the "confirmed" cases of ebola to soar by the end of the month...

Hat tip to Techno Guido for the spot!

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