Weighing Astronauts Is the Best Kinect Hack Yet

Astronauts can now keep check on their physique thanks to Kinect. And it's nothing to do with playing Kinect Sports — it's the latest hack from a team of European scientists.

When astronauts head up to space, they quickly lose muscle definition. Even a few weeks in zero-g can lead to a 15 per cent drop in total body mass. To stop that, the team on the ISS spend 2 hours a day exercising.

But keeping check of your weight in zero-g is difficult. Scales, obviously, don't work. Currently astronauts weigh themselves on an old-school stool fitted with oscillating springs, though that takes up too much space on the ISS and also uses an awful lot of power (see the video below).

Not for much longer, though. Because a team of French and Italian scientists have come up with a Kinect hack that lets them calculate body mass, New Scientist reports. The Kinect's depth-sensing cameras allow them to create a 3D model of the astronaut, compare it to a statistical model of 28,000 people, and predict a weight. It's 97 per cent accurate, which is comparable to the current system. But best of all, it's small, light and doesn't use much power.

It's not been tested in space yet, but it is being tested in the vomit comet, so it might not be long before NASA takes it up to the ISS. [New Scientist]