Kinect Challenge

Clemson’s Pirates raid international Microsoft competition

Kinect Challenge

Over 500 teams from around the world initially entered Microsoft’s Kinect Fun Labs Challenge, one of eight competitions held as part of the 10th annual Microsoft Imagine Cup, by writing a project proposal. Of those, 100 were asked to submit working software, a user’s manual, written paper and video

The top three teams were awarded a free trip to the final competition in Sydney, Australia. Of the 24 teams awarded first-, second- or third-place in the eight competitions, only two were from the U.S. And one of those teams was from Clemson.

School of Computing graduate students Patrick Dukes (left) and Austen Hayes, known competitively as the “Whiteboard Pirates,” took second place for their stroke rehabilitation application “Duck Duck Punch,” which uses Microsoft’s Kinect tracking system. A motion-sensing input device, Kinect enables users to control and interact with an Xbox 360 or a desktop computer without having to touch a game controller. The interface is accomplished with gestures and spoken commands.

“Duck Duck Punch” interjects a little fun into what sometimes can be a challenging rehabilitation regimen. Dukes and Hayes saw shortcomings with current stroke therapy that they could address with the Kinect.

“Since we wanted the program to be one that could actually be used, we consulted with stroke therapist Dr. Michelle Woodbury of the Medical University of South Carolina,” said Hayes. The goal was a cost-effective system that could be used at home. The pair came up with a design that helps with upper arm therapy.

“Several patients at the Medical University of South Carolina’s stroke center have tested the game, and the response has been quite positive,” Dukes said.

In 10 years, the Imagine Cup has grown to be a global competition focused on finding solutions to real-world problems. More than 1.4 million students have participated, with 358,000 students representing 183 countries and regions registering for the Imagine Cup 2012 competition.

“This international test underscores our students’ talents and capabilities, and says a great deal about the quality of our graduate programs in computer science,” said R. Larry Dooley, interim dean of Clemson’s College of Engineering and Science. “Patrick and Austen made their presence felt on a world stage.”

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