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Kinetisense: developing a Kinect app the right way

, 25 Jul 2014 CPOL
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Today, I would like to share one of my favorite projects my company has worked on. This project has been the result of a 5-month effort and is expected to launch publicly very soon. Kinetisense is one of these startups that you have a feeling they’ll succeed even before their product launch. When I

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Today, I would like to share one of my favorite projects my company has worked on. This project has been the result of a 5-month effort and is expected to launch publicly very soon.

Kinetisense is one of these startups that you have a feeling they’ll succeed even before their product launch. When I was initially approached by its founders, David and Ryan, I was impressed by how focused their product idea was. They came to me with a real problem to solve, an idea for the solution and valuable feedback for the whole development process. Throughout our extensive meetings, we set the goals and expectations of a revolutionary product that would serve a very specific purpose: change the game in the rehabilitation field.

Artificial intelligence, meet the consumers

If you’ve read any of my previous publications, you should already know that I’m a deeply technical person and I love programming for the sake of programming (just see my blog). However, when it comes to business, the most essential element of a new product is the market need it covers. Unless the product solves real problems and pains, it won’t succeed.

Kinetisense is different than any other competitor. It is inspired by founders with significant experience and impact in the medical field and it is tailored to fit their needs as much as possible. In this case, the creator is a customer as well (“Build an app that you’d buy”).

The problem

So, since a product needs to solve a pain, how exactly does Kinetisense succeed on this? First of all, it targets a niche market: rehabilitation professionals, practitioners, chiropractors. It is not just another fancy app for the average consumer. Instead, it is a solid platform for medical professionals who need a digital assistant to do their job better.

For years, practitioners have been using the same techniques to measure the range of motion of their patients: physical tools, such as the goniometer and the inclinometer, help them identify the angles formed by a patient’s joints. Technology has several times tried to substitute the physical tools in the form of wearable sensors or mobile apps. Guess what? Even the latest technological applications do not provide much of the desired efficiency in the whole process. Wearable sensors seem quite weird, plus they require a lot of time to setup. Mobile apps simply replace the physical goniometer with a digital one, so the end results are approximately the same.

You know you innovate when you change the way something is done, not the medium.

Kinetisense goniometer

The innovation

Kinetisense makes a huge step forward by utilizing the power of the most accurate consumer 3D sensor: Microsoft’s Kinect for Windows version 2. Kinect for Windows is an affordable device that can identify human body joints. Kinetisense algorithms can get the positions of the joints and calculate the exact angle of any given joints at any given time. And the best part? The identification of the range of motion is performed in less than half a second! No need to use plain-old tools or expensive wearable equipment. The patient simply stands or sits in front of the sensor and all the necessary calculations are performed with remarkable accuracy and speed.

Here is a demo of an angle calculation in action:

Kinetisense angle

That can save a huge amount of time for the practitioner, allowing her to examine more patients each day. As you can easily see, the practitioner knows the exact angle of the desired joints and can easily compare the current results with the previous ones.

Inclinometer and goniometer cannot beat that. Kinect does a great job on detecting the joints, and our algorithms manage to calculate significant data at a very short time. Simply contrast that with the required time and effort when you use a traditional tool.

Kinetisense is also crafted with all those tiny details in mind. It is not only a state-of-the-art digital assistant, but also a handy utility for keeping a contact list of patients and organizing their assessments. As you can see, the Kinect-related functionality is the most essential part of the app, but many other features are combined to offer a great experience.

Kinetisense patients

Technical characteristics

Kinetisense is developed for Windows 8.1 (using the WinRT APIs) and follows the Modern UI design aesthetics. It is relying on Kinect for Windows version 2 and will be published via the Windows Store. In my opinion, it’s the best fit for the new Surface 3. In short:

Kinetisense + Kinect 2 + Surface 3 = Magic

Usability

Kinetisense is a medical utility designed with efficiency in mind. Instead of being a hand-driven, natural user interface (like most of the competitive products), Kinetisense is strongly relying on touch for the most part. The whole app has been developed for touch-friendly tablet devices and helps the doctor accomplish various tasks quickly and easily. Similar applications that require the patient to handle the interface remotely using her hands, simply fail to accomplish the efficiency requirement. Instead, Kinetisense is a touch/mouse-driven app that uses Kinect only when it is absolutely necessary.

Kinetisense dysfunction

Whenever any special feedback is requested by the patient, voice recognition can partly replace touch and provide even better efficiency to the whole system. Kinetisense uses voice recognition to specify the level of pain a patient feels when performing a particular treatment.

So far, Kinetisense has impressed rehabilitation professionals and academics from all over the world and a strong support base has been developed on LinkedIn and social media. Gaining potential customers before you launch is the dream of every new company. Of course, this is only the beginning. Thoughts on expanding the platform on different medical fields have already aroused and the journey continues. Stay tuned (or subscribe) for the exact release date!

Visit Kinetisense

License

This article, along with any associated source code and files, is licensed under The Code Project Open License (CPOL)

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About the Author

Vangos Pterneas
Product Manager LightBuzz
United Kingdom United Kingdom
Vangos Pterneas is a Microsoft Most Valuable Professional in the Kinect technology. He helps companies from all over the world grow their revenue by creating profitable software products. Vangos is the owner of LightBuzz Software agency and author of two technical books.
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