Team from the Hasso Plattner Institute in Potsdam, Germany, has developed a system known as Bootstrapper which distinguishes between users based on their footwear.
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When a user interacts with the tabletop computer, the Bootstrapper system, which consists of one or more depth cameras mounted to the table’s edge, observes their shoes and matches them to a database of known shoe images that are associated with specific user profiles. When multiple users are interacting with the table at the same time, the system also takes into account the hand orientation of the touch inputs so they aren’t mismatched. The team has developed a prototype of the Bootstrapper using a Kinect and claim that it can recognize individuals from a database of 18 users with 89 percent accuracy. Obviously the system has some shortcomings. Two people wearing the same type of shoe or one person wearing different shoes at different times will render the system useless. However, the team says it chose such an approach because shoes offer distinct features, such ascolor, texture, design and, because shoes are generally aligned with the ground, they are easier to track. The team from the Hasso Plattner Institute will present their Bootstrapper research project at the CHI 2012 conference being held in Austin, Texas, in May 2012.