I think the key here is the Kinect visual-based motion sensor--a picture is worth 1000 lines of code? It's analogous to talking to your computer. They are both much more natural ways of interacting with machines, at least from the human perspective.
The Kinect approach is definately an important one for machine control. It is also most like human vision. I have seen, over many years (decades) the attempt to create autonomous vehicles and machines. They often use exotic sensors. Lately, though, there have been articles about using a Kinect system to drive these. The vision system is often coupled with a database or model of the scenario. This is much like what we humans do. Factory robots are starting to use some of this technology as well. This is a lot like the small robots that mimic insects, or other creatures. Mimicing humans may be the way to go here as well.
Very cool project. It's really interesting how widespread an impact gaming technology is having on so-called "serious" development, from robotics to CAD software. Kinect-like interfaces are popping up in a variety of different platforms and will push the envelope in terms of helping people interact with previously pretty inaccessible technologies.
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For industrial control applications, or even a simple assembly line, that machine can go almost 24/7 without a break. But what happens when the task is a little more complex? That’s where the “smart” machine would come in. The smart machine is one that has some simple (or complex in some cases) processing capability to be able to adapt to changing conditions. Such machines are suited for a host of applications, including automotive, aerospace, defense, medical, computers and electronics, telecommunications, consumer goods, and so on. This discussion will examine what’s possible with smart machines, and what tradeoffs need to be made to implement such a solution.