Microsoft’s Kinect guards South Korea’s borders against trespassers
It turns out that Kinect is a very good and cheap way to differentiate between animals and errant North Koreans trying to cross the border, and triggering automatic alerts at nearby South Korean military outposts if a human is detected.
The Korean Demilitarized Zone, which is 160 miles long, 2.5 miles wide, and separates the countries of North and South Korea, has been in place since 1953. Despite its name, it’s the actually the most militarized border in the world. For 60 years, the DMZ has essentially been untouched by humans — and as a result, it’s one of the finest examples of temperate habitat in the world. All sorts of endangered species are believed to live there, including the red-crowned crane, the Korean leopard and tiger, and Asian black bear.
South Korea monitors the DMZ with infrared motion sensors, but these sensors lack the ability to differentiate between animals and people. Enter Kinect. The South Korean military says it has been using a Kinect-based system, developed by Microsoft MVP Jae Kwan Ko, that can quickly and reliably pick out human intruders. The system has been in place since August 2013. As is fairly usual for military tech, we don’t have a whole lot of details on how the system actually works, beyond the fact that it alerts a nearby military outpost when a human is detected. The press release implies that the system is impressive because a) it’s cheap, and b) Kwan Ko was a self-taught wunderkind who defeated all the odds to become a Microsoft MVP.
Moving forward, Ko told a South Korean news site that a future version of the system will use the Xbox One’s Kinect 2.0, which will allow for better range, accuracy, and heart beat detection.