Xbox Kinect guards Korean border

Xbox Kinect guards Korean border

Summary: Microsoft's movement-recognition Kinect software has morphed from virtual shooter gaming to the real-life challenge of guarding the world's last Cold War border.

TOPICS: Microsoft, Korea

The Kinect sensor allowing hands-free play on the Xbox is the basis for a security device now deployed along the demilitarised zone (DMZ) that separates North and South Korea, after being adapted by a South Korean programmer.

Four kilometres wide and 248 kilometres long, the DMZ is a depopulated no-man's land of heavily fortified fences that bristles with the landmines and listening posts of two nations that technically remain at war.

As a military buffer zone, it's an area of profound Cold War hostility, but its man-made isolation has also created an accidental wildlife park recognised as one of the best-preserved habitats on Earth.

The Kinect-based software developed by Ko Jae-Kwan, founder-president of Saewan Co, has been taken up by the military because of its ability to differentiate between human and animal movement.

Ko, 39, said on Thursday that his device could detect the sound, movement, and direction of anybody attempting to cross the DMZ and immediately alert South Korean border guards.

"Existing sensors, which had been in place along the border, were highly efficient, but could not tell the difference between humans and animals, sending wrong signals frequently," Ko said.

The new sensors have been in place along certain sections of the DMZ since August last year, he added.

"Such devices are established as part of our project to strengthen surveillance with scientific equipment, but we cannot provide details for security reasons," a defence ministry official said on condition of anonymity.

Despite all of the security measures in place along the DMZ, there have been highly publicised incidents of undetected crossings.

Five South Korean generals and nine mid-level officers were removed from their posts or disciplined in 2012 after a defecting North Korean soldier simply walked undetected across the border and knocked on the door of a guard post.

The security lapse was all the more embarrassing, as it came at a time of surging military tensions, when the South Korean army was supposedly on high alert.

Ko said he planned to update the existing Kinect-based sensors to a version capable of detecting heart rates and reading body temperature, features that Microsoft added to the Xbox One version of the console released last year.

"For its price, the device is very accurate and effective in covering vulnerable areas," he said.

Topics: Microsoft, Korea

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  • Don't you mean.......

    It's based on the primesense technology (the Israeli company) now owned by Apple.
    Alan Smithie
    • Apple fanboy

      Trust an Apple fanboy to shoot Microsoft down!
  • This is what Kinect is for

    Not a gaming interface. I really wish MS would stop pushing this as a gaming interface, even though it works horribly for games, & develop it for things like this. Or a budget MoCap device. Put 2 of these together in a small room, write some software to stitch the 2 images together & you have a good mocap device.
    • Technically they have

      They released developer equipment to the general market with a PC orientated interface.

      There's been plenty of examples where people have taken the equipment and developed it far better than MS could have done. MS understood there was no value in withholding it so released it to the market to come up with innovative ideas for the benefit of all. It's already in use by S&R teams to locate survivors.
      Little Old Man
  • Error in the article

    One of the few things North and South Koreans agree on is that they are one nation (but they don't agree on what to call the country). Indeed, both states formally claim the entire country. So the proper phrase is "two states that technically remain at war".
    John L. Ries
  • Great

    So the great invasion from the north will be soldiers wearing pantomime horse costumes...