Archive for March, 2011

How Kinect body tracking works and how Machine Learning helped

Saturday, March 26th, 2011

Microsoft Research has published a paper explaining how the Kinect body tracking algorithm works [PDF]. This video shows how it all comes together. They trained a variation of Random Forests on the various pre-labeled images to identify the various body parts from a normal RBG camera and a depth-camera. The way they create many more training images from previously captured data is also interesting. The final system can run at 200 frames per second and it doesn’t need an initial calibration pose. Very interesting…

European Court of Justice ruling (indirectly) on what cannot be used in Insurance Risk Models

Tuesday, March 1st, 2011

Insurers cannot charge different premiums to men and women because of their gender, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) has ruled.

I’m not sure what to think of it. For one, insurance is not about fairness; it’s about risk. An insurance company should be able to use whatever reliable information for determining the true risk to help price policies. From what I’ve read it seems that young men cost ~50% more to insure than young women. This might not be true on an individual level, but it is true across the entire pool people. On the other hand, if all reliable information could be used, then health insurance would naturally be more expensive for people with, e.g., known genetic disorders if it were purely about risk. That wouldn’t be fair either. Legislating what can and cannot be used in what circumstances will be a hard trade off. In the intermediate term this ruling will probably lead to models that are using all sorts of things to work around this ruling in order to get an adequate risk score.