The Kinect has gone beyond transforming how we game on the Xbox to being an innovative tool with applications in education, arts, health care and many more areas. Microsoft has not been remiss in recognizing the potential of the Kinect and has taken steps to encourage people to expand its scope and capabilities by providing tools and support. One of these steps is the Kinect Accelerator program.

The Kinect Accelerator aims to take Kinect development even further by engaging Kinect-focused startups in a mentoring program of sorts. Initially, Microsoft was eyeing 10 finalists and was only expecting to receive 100-150 applications. However, the response from interested parties was extremely positive and they instead received nearly five times the expected volume of applications. The quality of applications also made them decide to add an additional slot.

The 11 finalists will be awarded $20,000 to fund their projects and have been invited to Seattle where they will spend three months working with entrepreneurs and key Microsoft people involved with the Kinect:

“Participants will be mentored by entrepreneurs and venture capitalists as well as executives from Kinect for Windows, Xbox, Microsoft Studios, Microsoft Research and other Microsoft organizations. At the end of the program, each company will have the opportunity to present their innovation at an event in front of an audience of potential investors.

Participants will have the opportunity to develop with Kinect for Windows, a platform that combines a Kinect for Windows sensor, software development kit, and commercial license to enable businesses and developers to create a new class of Windows-based applications using movement, gestures and voice. Kinect for Windows gives companies and organizations worldwide the tools and resources to build innovative solutions to enhance their operations and relationships with customers.”

Kinect for Windows General Manager Craig Eisler, in an interview with with Geekwire, reveals that their hope is to get people to “deep dive and think very deeply about what’s possible with Kinect while accelerating the use of Kinect in a broad-base of scenarios.” And while Eisler has declined to disclose more details about the selected startups, he says that most of them are working on projects that seek to address “real world business problems.”

Here’s a list of the 11 finalists:

Freak’n Genius – Seattle, WA.
GestSure Technologies – Toronto, Canada.
IKKOS – Seattle, WA.
Kimetric – Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Jintronix Inc. – Montreal, Canada.
Manctl – Lyon, France.
NConnex – Hadley, MA.
Styku – Los Angeles, CA.
übi interactive – Munich, Germany.
VOXON – New York, NY.
Zebcare – Boston, MA.

We’re excited by what projects these finalists will be working on. We’ll be sure to share more updates about the Kinect Accelerator program as soon as their available.


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