Kinect…back on it

Sunday, December 11th, 2011

Got a Kinect from Best Buy today for $99. Holiday prices I guess…good deal eh? :)

Starting to play with Kinect again. Did it at work earlier this year when I was still on the East Coast. Back then we were testing out its capabilities to determine whether it would be a good platform to use for a science museum activity. We got the OpenNI, NITE(from Primesense…the company that actually developed the hardware in the Kinect sensor) samples working just to see how well skeleton tracking works.

Fast forward to the present…

So, I’ve just downloaded Cinder and their Kinect Cinderblock(their term for a library) and ran the samples. Pretty neat. It allows you to essentially get the sensor information from the Kinect and also allows you to control some of the hardware on it such as the motor so you can adjust the tilt of the Kinect. Here’s their example of a visual point cloud composed from Kinect’s depth information.

PrimeSense and ‘recently’ Microsoft released SDKs to help you work with the Kinect. (These SDKs, also come with libraries that help you interpret and make sense of the Kinect sensor information. I.e., they take the raw color and depth info from the cameras and (if a person is standing in front of it) will give you information about the body…such as the location of their head, hands and joints. Without it, the info from the cameras are essentially just color information and depth information.

Here’s an article comparing the features of Microsoft’s SDK and PrimeSense’s SDK. The one thing that I see is a major benefit for Microsoft is that there’s no calibration pose needed. From an interaction designer’s perspective, this is huge because user’s don’t expect a calibration step. It would be best if the technology just works!

Pomodoro Technique

Monday, December 5th, 2011

I recently read about the Pomorodo Technique on a post at the Stack Exchange forum on personal productivity.

At its very basis, it’s a way to help you have focused intervals of work with minimal distractions. It also helps with goal setting, task management, time management and time estimation.

The jist of it is this (iterate on the items in your todo list) :

  1. Set a timer for 25 minutes (this timer and time unit is called the ‘Pomodoro’)…work on the task without interruptions
  2. Mark an X next to your todo (this helps you keep track of how many Pomodoro’s you’re using for this todo task)
  3. If you’ve finished the task, cross it out from your todo list.
  4. Take a 5 minute break. During the break, do not do anything related to the task. You can check your email, etc.
  5. If this is your 4th Pomodoro, take a longer break…30 minutes.
There’s a lot more to this technique but at the heart is this cycle of work intervals and breaks.
It’s been helping me so far. I really like the short bursts of focus. I have lots of things to juggle now so this is a great technique to help me organize my time.