Mom’s Favorite Kinect Hack – Reverse Parking Assistant

Well here’s another Kinect Hack I know you’ll all LOVE – and this one, guys, may be a great gift for the lady in your life who just cannot seem to get the parallel parking thing! Or for you, if you’re the one who has trouble parking. Check out the video on this reverse parking assist using Microsoft Kinect – I wonder if we could convince the insurance companies to offer reduced rates for installing this!

A reverse parking system which utilizes the kinect depth image to generate a birds eye view of surroundings behind the vehicle. The parking assist can switch between color camera mode, infra red camera mode, and reverse parking assist mode. Future plans include using an android phone to display camera information to the user.

This is one of the most practical hacks I’ve seen for the Kinect software, and the kudos goes to Gibson Hu at the University of Technology in Sydney. The camera attached to the back bumper of the car transmits to a touchscreen inside the vehicle and can be switched between color camera, infrared and parking assist options. I like the sequence in the video that shows the car backing up into a really tight spot in a parking garage.  And I really like the STOP warning it gives when you’re getting too close (could have used that a few times myself, I must admit!)

Hu used some great open source ideas to create this system – including OpenCV (Open Source Computer Vision Library) which focuses on real-time image processing, Ubuntu (an Linux-based operating system/free-source entity that cannot be sufficiently described in less than 20 words – may have to get back to this at another time!), and Libfreenect (drivers and libraries for the Xbox Kinect device on Windows, Linux and OS X).

Now…if someone can only figure out a Kinect Hack that will help drive the car…

Would love to hear comments/suggestions on this cool hack – might be an interesting project for the Best Ever Mother’s Day gift! Or at least the one that keeps the wife/girlfriend from dinging the car on those shopping sprees…thoughts?

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