Previously we have discussed some of the limitations of using the current Kinect sensor for robotics. Now, the Nyko Zoom lens for the Kinect provides a possible solution to two of those issues.
First the lens increases the field of view and the wider view should improve performance for tasks such as cloud/scan matching when building maps. Next the zoom lens decrease the minimum distance required for the depth sensor to function, without the lenses we were about to get depth information for a coffee mug about 52cm away. The minimum distance decreased to about 36cm with the zoom lens attached.
The packaging claims that it is plug and play and no software changes are necessary, this is possibly true for video games, for robotics applications a manual calibration will need to be performed. We should have more information on calibration requirements in the near future.
The above image shows the point could data from the Kinect with the factory calibration.
This image shows the effect of the zoom lens without a calibration.
If the calibration works as well as we hope, these should be ideal for improving performance of manipulation tasks. They should also provide a significant boost to 3D recognition rates and scan quality.
We will put up more information as it becomes available. In the mean time if you want to try it they are now in stock.