Video games really can change the world and not just make kids lazy. Thanks to video games, Astronauts now have another tool to help them stay fit and it is all thanks to a body tracking camera system built into Microsoft’s Kinect gaming sensor, which is being used to calculate weight in zero gravity.
Space missions are tough on the human body as we aren’t designed for zero gravity. Even during missions that last just a few weeks, astronauts can lose up to 15 percent of their body mass because their muscles atrophy. This is why the crew aboard the International Space Station spends about 2 hours exercising every day. If they didn’t they would be in sad shape.
Scales don’t work in zero gravity, so what do you do? Well, there is a way to measure weight in space that was designed in 1965 by William Thornton. It used oscillating springs. Astronauts still use a similar device today, but they have to mount a stool fitted with a spring that raises and lowers at a frequency that depends on the mass it is acting against. But it is large, requires a lot of energy, and it’s not practical.
Now the Kinect is being used to create a 3D model of an astronaut. The team ran their calculation using a statistical model that links weight to body measurements based on a database of 28,000 people. With this database, Velardo’s estimates are claimed to be 97 percent accurate with an average error of just 2.7 kilograms (6 pounds); which is comparable to the current method already used. So it looks like we have video games to thank for this new helper to Astronauts.