The Human Computer Interaction (HCI) Group from the university of Konstanz has created Navigational Aids for the Visually Impaired (or NAVI), an application that uses Kinect’s perception of depth to guide visually impaired people in buildings. It works by having Kinect “see” the volumes around the user and use that information to provide guidance via a vibrating belt, it’s a bit like a bat. In addition to that, the developers have been using 2D barcodes as markers. The color camera of Kinect can read barcodes, while the depth camera can tell the application how far the barcode is from the user. Neat. In any case, this is a very interesting concept that works with off-the-shelves equipment.
Today, there are already prototypes that connect camera sensors directly to the brain, so that a completely blind person can go from “total darkness” to “seeing shapes”. The NAVI system and others could be added to partially offset the loss of vision. Doing that using gaming hardware is quite remarkable.