University of Southampton OCS (beta), CAA 2012

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Virtual Hands Free Interaction with 3D Objects and Environments
Dante Abate, Graziano Furini, Silvio Migliori, Samuele Pierattini

Last modified: 2012-02-04


In the last few years many low cost game controllers have been used to sense the user’s motion. These range in capability from handheld controllers that can be used for gesture-based control, such as the Nintendo Wiimote and the Playstation Move, to cameras that use computer vision techniques to sense the user’s body pose, such as the Playstation Eye. Since Microsoft commercialized the Sensor Kinect, at first stage known as Project Natal, it has been possible to sense the full-body pose without the use of markers or handheld devices, exploiting a low cost device. Sensor Kinect is a motion sensing input device for the Xbox 360 video game console. It’s a system that can interpret specific gestures, making completely hands-free control of electronic devices possible by using an infrared projector and camera. Since November 2010 open source drivers have been developed to use the Sensor Kinect also with standard computers and different OS (windows and linux). Lately OpenNI organization and PrimeSense have emerged to promote standardization of these natural interaction devices, and has made available an open source framework for developers.

In the field of archaeology and cultural heritage the Sensor Kinect can have a wide range of applications, especially for 3D modelling and mixed/augmented reality applications. For 3D modelling, as a laser scanning device, it basically works exploiting the principle of Time of Flight (TOF), creating point clouds data. Few open source software have been already developed. Since it is a low cost device, it’s much more affordable by institutions working in the field of preservation of cultural heritage, which often have to deal with low budgets. However, since Sensor Kinect was not born for this purpose, the most important trades-off, comparing with commercial instruments, are the low range and the poor resolution.

The second field of application, which concerns cultural heritage, is the interaction with 3D models in augmented reality environments. Since 3D TV and cinemas have taken the scene in daily entertainment, stereoscopic visualization is no more an added value for visitors experiencing virtual museum and archaeological sites. Today general public demands something more.

This new way of coming in contact with digital art and archaeology, like moving an object or walking an environment using just the own body, represent a new way to near and engage old and young generations of scholars, students, normal visitors and fans with the cultural heritage world, which will be seen from a new and different point of view. The use of Sensor Kinect, not for gaming, but for these purposes will move the general experience from the concept of entertainment to the concept of edutainment.  

In this study we have used a mix of tools, most of them free and open source, for virtual interaction without using any physical controller. The user can move and examine architectures, sculptures, archaeological artefacts just using specified gesture; or explore a church or a palace walking in front of the screen like he/she would walk inside the building.


Kinect; Motion Tracking; 3D; Interaction