Initial Kinect Notes

A project log for Robot Butler

Little Sergei, the retired BattleBot learning to serve as a robot assistant

shawn-chenShawn Chen 08/02/2014 at 21:210 Comments

While Little Sergei waits to build a new diet (batteries), he also needs to get glasses, in the form of a shiny cutting-edge version 2 Kinect. He'll spend a few days with it learning how to see boxes.

I've recently attended a Hackathon at Grind Spaces and acquired a Version 2 Kinect. Since I have it, I should do something fun with it, or in this case, use it as the eyes and ears for the robot.

The new device provides high resolution imaging, depth sensing, and a good microphone. The SDK also has built in libraries, and is able to see up to six people and their general limb positions. Since people detection is already available, I will work on detecting a cardboard box instead. For now, here's a little brainstorming about how the robot will use the Kinect.

The new Kinect requires windows 8, and a USB 3.0 connection. Sadly, my wimpy computer only has USB 2.0. I attempted to buy a 34mm PCI Express card for USB ports, but the card needs Express version 2 to allow full functionality. Thus, I had to borrow a boot-camped Apple computer to operate the Kinect. I wish to avoid too many middle-men programs, so the core of the robot will be coded in C#. I'll aim to use standard firmata in C# so the program can directly send signals to the Arduino on the robot.

Unfortunately, the Kinect requires external power, and the adapter ends in an electrical socket plug. I haven't found any third party power adapters I could snip and connect to a battery, so for the moment, Little Sergei will be a tethered robot. He probably needs some hand holding anyway.