Microsoft kicks off Kinect Accelerator program to take 11 Kinect-centric start-ups to the next level

Microsoft unwittingly created quite the hacking cottage industry when it first introduced Kinect. Though it took awhile for the company to come to grips with the amazing inventions enabled by its sensor bar, Redmond eventually released Kinect for Windows. Now, the Kinect Accelerator program is here to take Kinect development even further. Kinect Accelerator is a three-month long incubator of sorts for folks with Kinect-basted start-ups. It works by providing the chosen ones with mentors from Microsoft Research, Microsoft Studios, Kinect for Windows and the Xbox team to provide support and knowledge to refine and improve their Kinect apps. Additionally, venture capitalists and entrepreneurs will be available to give advice help the teams craft business plans to help them become profitable.

We had the opportunity to chat with Craig Eisler -- who heads up the Kinect for Windows team and is heavily involved with Kinect Accelerator -- about this new venture. Eisler told us that Microsoft's been planning the program since last summer after witnessing all the Kinect innovations that have been percolating organically. So, the Accelerator gives Microsoft the opportunity to find some of the best ideas and speed up their development. Microsoft wound up receiving almost 500 applicants to the program, and winnowing it down to a final 11 was no easy task -- the final 50 ideas were apparently all quite good, and the initial plan was to only take ten into the program.

The 11 who made the cut hail from across the globe (US, Canada, Argentina, France, and Germany), and will receive $20,000 and office space, plus Kinect hardware and development software to get their ideas off the ground. Unfortunately, we couldn't get Eisler to tell us exactly what each team is working on, but he did say they'll benefit the medical, retail, fashion, and even farm industries when all is said and done. Specifics about the inventions will come later, once the mentors have worked their magic and the apps are closer to their final forms, so stay tuned. You can learn more about the Kinect Accelerator and the chosen teams at the source link below and PR after the break.

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Today, Microsoft welcomes finalists to Seattle for its first-ever Kinect Accelerator, a three-month program for entrepreneurs, engineers and innovators to create new business applications through the magic of Kinect with the potential to enhance everyday business practices and revolutionize industries. The Kinect Accelerator is a Microsoft Accelerator program powered by TechStars.

From healthcare and training to entertainment and 3D modeling, eleven companies from across the globe have been selected to participate in the Kinect Accelerator, which will be held in Seattle from April to June with the goal of building exciting products and great companies with Kinect.

Microsoft received nearly 500 applications for the Kinect Accelerator with concepts spanning nearly 20 different industries, including healthcare, education, retail, entertainment, and more. After a rigorous and competitive review process, the following 11 finalists from five countries were selected:

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.

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.

For more information on Kinect for Windows or to follow the Kinect Accelerator, please visit the Kinect for Windows blog or