Could Microsoft’s Kinect Sensor for the Xbox 360 be headed into orbit for duty on the International Space Station (ISS)?

Maybe a little Dance Central action amongst the astronauts?

Well if computer scientist Carmelo Velardo’s idea gets approval then it could very well happen.  That would make Kinect not only the first hands free device on Earth but also in Low Earth Orbit (LEO) on ISS however, the device would not be used for gaming but to weigh the astronauts during their missions.

According to a story I found today on the NewScientist Tech website, Carmelo hope’s to get his hardware flight tested soon in a parabolic aircraft flight that simulates the weightlessness in LEO.

Along with colleagues at the Italian Institute of Technology’s Center for Human Space Robotics in Torino, he used the Kinect’s depth-sensing ability to create a 3D model of an astronaut. Then the team ran their calculation using a statistical model that links weight to body measurements based on a database of 28,000 people. Velardo’s estimates are 97 per cent accurate, corresponding to an average error of just 2.7 kilograms, which is comparable to the current method used on board the ISS.

"This technique appears feasible, although not without some effort," says John Charles, chief scientist on NASA’s human research programme in Houston, Texas. He says that microgravity shifts water around inside astronauts’ bodies, which means their density may not match the assumptions in the model.

Charles adds that combining the idea with the existing weighing system might prove more beneficial, as the Kinect measures body volume while the stool measures mass. "The combination would provide insights into changes in body density that might be illuminating," Velardo agrees.

We have already seen the Kinect Effect in so many other fields that help us learn more about how the device assists folks in overcoming the challenges they face in life.  I am glad Microsoft is opening up the Kinect Commercial SDK to everyone so these talented minds and thinkers around the world can come up with even more ways the Kinect can change our lives.

And I guess a little Dance Central on orbit wouldn’t hurt anyone – would it?