Every once in awhile, it’s nice to get out of Portland to see what’s going on in other towns. And other startup scenes. Thursday, I was lucky enough to get the opportunity to attend the Microsoft Accelerator for Kinect Demo Day, a startup accelerator partnership between Microsoft and TechStars.
Now, dealing with Web and mobile startups is usually pretty ethereal. But Kinect for Windows and XBOX 360 takes it to a whole different level. What started as a gaming platform has become a way to interact and document human movement and represent virtual objects. All without really touching anything but thin air.
What’s more, it’s great to see more large companies realize the potential for innovation coming from outside of their company. And seizing the opportunity to work with these talented startups to get them moving further, faster than they would be able to move on their own. Which is truly the value of this TechStars and Microsoft partnership.
Here are the 11 startups in the order that they pitched:
Jintronix is making physical rehab more affordable and accessible. Using Kinect, they convert body movements into clinically relevant data for both the consumer and the medical professional.
Kimetric allows brick and mortar shops to instantly understand how consumers are interacting with products in physical stores by tracking the virtual fingerprints and contrails that consumers leave behind as they move through a store. It’s like Web analytics for the physical world.
Remember the “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up” commercials? The commercials have become a punch line, but the problem is still very real. How do family and friends monitor at-risk or elderly adult populations without invading their privacy? Zebcare has a way to do this using Kinect.
I’ve never wanted to learn CAD but I would love to be able to print 3D objects with a MakerBot. Well, now I can. Manctl makes 3d scanning cheap and easy—creating a three-dimensional model by stitching together photos from the Kinect.
Ikkos is helping people improve the way they move. They started with sports and high-end athletes, but they’re moving into the world of rehabilitation. Will it work? The US government seems to think so. Ikkos has secured working capital in the form of a grant through the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Styku is all about helping people find clothing that fits and compliments their body shape. Use a Kinect at home to scan your body or head into a specially outfitted dressing room to get your own personalized dress up doll.
Ubi turns any surface into a multitouch screen. They claim compatibility with “Any display. Any surface. Any application.” The solution has already been installed at Microsoft for use in conference rooms. I found this one especially compelling because it’s basically Kinect replacing the original Microsoft Surface concept.
How can you tell if that new couch is going to fit in your cramped apartment? Nconnex allows you to try before you buy for furniture. Using their solution, Kinect users can quickly and easily map their homes and then bring virtual furniture into the rooms.
Want holographic Tupac in your living room? Then you’re going to love Voxon. It’s taking the MakerBot model—designed to reduce costs by moving machine assembly to the end user—and delivering a holographic viewing platform. Watch for it on Kickstarter in the coming months.
These folks helped people “stop thinking about Kinect hacks and start thinking about Kinect products.” GestSure enable surgeons to use Kinect to manipulate computers during surgery without compromising the sterile environment. Also winners of quote of the day: “The typical computer has more bacteria than your toilet.” The solution will be delivered as a Roku-esque box and it already has FDA approval.
Freak’n Genius is taking the popularity of Jibjab like animations and the ease of Xtranormal to give anyone the ability to make customized animated cartoons. Basically, they’ve democratized animation. And people are taking notice. Cheezburger founder Ben Huh introduced the crew, via Freak’n Genius of course.
Next up for Microsoft and TechStars? A Microsoft Windows Azure cloud accelerator.
For more information on the program, visit Microsoft Accelerator or follow @msaccel on Twitter. For more on Demo Day, check out the #msaccel hashtag.