Is your job a pain in the neck? Kinect might help.

Do you sometimes have a stiff, aching neck after a day of staring at your computer? If so, you’re far from alone. According to an article published in The Journal of the Canadian Chiropractic Association, over a third of regular computer users report work-related neck pain (WRNP) annually. So, just like you’ve been telling your friends, your job really can be a pain in the neck.

And grousing aside, WRNP has serious public health implications in terms of decreased productivity, lost wages, and payments for medical treatment. Back in 1997, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health pegged the cost of all work-related muscular disorders at $13 billion annually in the United States, a figure that later researchers revised upward to $45 to $54 billion. Granted, not all of those costs are the result of WRNP—but a lot of them are.

With so much at stake, it would be great to have a simple, affordable way of evaluating workers’ posture in order to eliminate ergonomically awkward neck positions. The standard device used to study such postures is an electrogoniometer, a relatively expensive piece of specialized equipment that measures joint angles.

This led researchers at Urmia University of Medical Sciences in Iran to explore the Microsoft Kinect sensor as a cost-effective alternative for identifying troublesome neck postures. Using the Kinect for Windows software development kit, they wrote an application that calculates a subject’s neck angle based on the Kinect sensor’s skeletal tracking data.

They tested the results of their Kinect-based program against those from an electrogoniometer and found their program’s results to be reliable and accurate. Moreover, the Kinect-based measurement was quicker and required less equipment. They concluded that the Kinect for Windows system offers a promising, low-cost, easy-setup alternative for studying neck posture.

So, think about that the next time you’re rubbing your neck after hours on the computer. Maybe a little time in front of the Kinect sensor could identify posture changes that would alleviate your suffering. You might still find your job a pain in the neck, but now it would be figurative rather than literal.

If you’d like to share information about a Kinect for Windows v2 solution that you’ve developed, contact us. We may be able to feature your story in a future blog.

The Kinect for Windows Team

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