xboxThe biggest innovations often come from surprising places and ten years ago it is unlikely that anyone would have seen video gaming peripherals as a leader in senior healthcare, but that is precisely what the Kinect is beginning to do. Physical gaming with a Microsoft Kinect can lead to positive health benefits for seniors. In a series of seven studies featuring more than 311 senior participants, six of the seven studies found positive health effects derived from exergaming, reports Grey Gamers. In addition to the physical exercise benefits that the Kinect can provide, there are many other ways that the Kinect can improve the quality of life for many seniors.

Connecting Seniors with Kinect

The Kinect device makes video calling as easy as sitting in front of the television, and can help seniors to stay in touch with family and friends effortlessly.

One of the best apps for video calls, on the Xbox One or anywhere, is the Skype app. Microsoft has realized the potential of video calling services offered on the Xbox One and the synchronicity with devices like Skype. According to Tech50 Plus, Microsoft purchased Skype in October of 2011 for $8.5 billion. Such an acquisition shows that Microsoft is taking the video calling capabilities of their video game consoles quite seriously.

The video calling capabilities of an Xbox One with Kinect go beyond just keeping in touch with friends and family—it can keep seniors in touch with health professionals. Take for example, this service gives virtual health consultations using the Kinect, allowing patients with chronic diseases to receive visits from virtual nurses.

Since many Xbox One consoles come standard with a Kinect system, this means that every Xbox One system can provide personalized monitoring and follow-up care. Advancements like this make the Kinect all the more valuable for homebound seniors.

Assisted Monitoring

The Kinect system can also be used in monitoring the safety of people who live in senior communities.

According to Next Avenue, Kinect systems are being test deployed in a Missouri-based independent living community for seniors called TigerPlace. Co-developed with assistance from the University of Missouri Sinclair School of Nursing, this Kinect monitoring system takes advantage of the Kinect’s 360-degree sensor as well as it’s motion-capture technology to identify changes in a person’s behavior or movement to detect illness. The fact that the Kinect system can use infrared light to create a silhouette depth image helps to alleviate privacy concerns that a video surveillance system or web camera based monitoring system could not.

Additionally, The new Kinect sensors are so precise that it can measure the heart rate of an individual by detecting minuscule changes in their skin tone and can even read their heart rate variability. Being able to detect changes in heart rate variability means that the Kinect could be used by experts to diagnosis a surprising range of physical and even psychological conditions such as stress and depression.

The health and wellness applications of this little bundle of sensors and microphones seems limitless when developers tinker with it, and the future of senior wellness and accessibility might come with several games in the future.