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Central Ohio Spawns More Than Averageness: Home of Kinect Developer


Central Ohio is known for one thing, and that is being average.  OK, maybe two things, I forgot the Buckeyes!  Either way, Columbus, OH is so average that most companies perform new product testing in the area to gauge the potential successes of their future wares.  Because if the land of average accepts it, then most of the World should too right?  Well, I just found out that Central Ohio does have more to offer than the next new McDonald’s experiment, because it’s also the birthplace of one of the developers that was critically involved in the creation of Microsoft’s Kinect.

That’s right, Columbus, Ohio’s very own Ryan Geiss is one of the masterminds involved in creating the technology used in the Kinect.  Ryan has always been a genius, and I do know of him because we went to the illustrious Olentangy High together, so imagine my surprise when I found out that he had a heavy hand in getting the Kinect off the ground.

Back in 2008 Microsoft was considering entering the motion-controlled gaming world, but wanted to do it in a controller-less fashion.  They created some depth cameras and a rudimentary tracking system, but it wasn’t solid enough to justify their camera based controller.  This is when they hunted down Geiss to help them get their tracking system nailed down.  When describing the process Geiss said, “I was the first person to play with their depth camera, and within two months I had a better tracker than anyone had seen in the industry. That’s the biggest challenge. If you can track where someone’s wrist or knee goes, that’s a really interesting application for gaming.  After that, the company said, ‘OK, this is doable,’ and made the commitment.”

Without hesitation one could say that Ryan Geiss is the reason that the Kinect made it to consumers.  It sounds like before Microsoft approached him they really didn’t have a working tracking system, so his 2 months of work were crucial in perfecting the camera based system for market.  Obviously, other geniuses were involved in the project, but Geiss’s work is integral for the Kinect to work.

As if his tracking system wasn’t enough Mircorsoft came back to him a second time to bail them out with a major bug.  In early stages of development the Kinect would crash once the user sat down.  Geiss said, “If a player did sit down, the motion-recognition system would fail, and there would be a big jumble of body parts [on screen].”  Ryan was tasked with figuring this issue out, which he did saying, “So I solved the problem of sitting – and as a side benefit, it gave a very high resolution to the hands.”  Not only did he solve the sitting issue, but he accidentally provided greater hand resolution to the Kinect!

It’s very clear that Ryan Geiss is a genius, but the best part is that he used some of his talents to make gamer’s lives better.  Without this Son of Central Ohio we may not have even been talking about the Kinect right now.  So the next time someone asks what’s so great about Central Ohio instead of saying, “We get the McRib first!”, you can now say, “One of the Kinect inventors was born here!”  Be proud that such a mind came from a state known more for Buckeyes and corn than creating super geniuses.  I highly suggest reading the entire article using the link below.  It’s a great read and a good look into a smart geeks mind.  You’ve never thought that the Kinect would be partly created by someone you know of…

[#ff entbuddha] “Making you a better geek, one post at a time!”

Via [ColumbusDispatch] [Geissworks]

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Matt Heywood

The author Matt Heywood

Matt Heywood is the founder and EIC of EntertainmentBuddha.com where he strives to make you a better geek, one post at a time! When he’s not scouring the Internet for interesting nuggets of awesomeness he can be found in his secret lair enjoying the latest and greatest video games, taking pictures of toys, or talking Star Wars on EB’s Star Wars Time podcast show.