It's pretty obvious now that Kinect is not just for games that have you flail your arms wildly about in hopes of beating your opponent senseless in Kinect Sports Boxing. The hardware has inspired countless innovations in how we interact with computers. The official release of Kinect for Windows earlier this year cemented Microsoft's commitment to inspired new technologies. Microsoft is now taking that a step further with the announcement of the finalists in the Kinect Accelerator.
The Kinect Accelerator is a contest of sorts. Microsoft tasked companies from all areas to come up with intriguing new uses for the Kinect hardware and apply it to applications. When the event was first announced in November of last year, Microsoft received over 500 applicants. They have since narrowed that down to 11 finalists. These finalists, along with the help of Microsoft and TechStars, will use the "mentor driven TechStars approach to foster a new generation of businesses."
Let's take a look at the finalists and see what they came up with:
Freak'n Genius is a company that is using the Kinect sensor to bring real-time animation to the masses. Their hiring video is quite the sell and pretty funny. Check it out:
GestSure Technologies is one of the more interesting startups of the bunch. They are bringing the Kinect interface to operating rooms so doctors can use medical information interfaces without having to actually touch them. This allows doctors to access crucial information during surgery without having to touch anything that could potentially carry infection.
Ikkos is looking to bring Kinect to athletic training. The creators say that it uses neuroplasticity, which is "the ability of the human braing to change as a result of one's experience." It's currently being used for swimmers and other athletics.
Another startup using Kinect in a helpful way is Jintronix. They are using motion sensing technology, like the Kinect, to help people during rehab who are suffering from "motor-control deficiencies." They do this through interactive simulations that are comparable to games that make rehab fun and rewarding.
Manctl is bringing 3D scanning to the Kinect. These are the kind of scanners professionals use for 3D printing to create a digital 3D model of an object. Those scanners can cost upwards of $600. Manctl uses Kinect to get the same result at a fraction of the price.
One of the coolest applications of the bunch is NCONNEX. The Kinect technology is being used in two ways. The first is called KinPlace and it allows you to digitally place furniture in your home. This allows users to accurately judge if that new shelf is going to fit in the space you cleared for it. The other is the NCONNEX Labs which is exploring different ways of how Kinect can be used in education, elder-care, healthcare, etc.
Almost in the same vein as NCONNEX, Styku lets you try it before you buy it. It's software allows users to try on clothes without actually trying them on. The advantage in retail might not be apparent, it's advantage is clear in online shopping. What if you could try on clothes online before you buy them? That's pretty impressive, but what if you could design your own clothes and have it delivered it to you within four hours? Styku says they can do that and it's pretty amazing. Check out the video below:
Not to be confused with Ubisoft, Ubi-Interactive aims to use Kinect and other motion sensing technologies to turn any "existing display into a 3D touch-screen." The implications are obvious with education and businesses benefitting immensely.
One of the startups doesn't have much information, but VoxieBox claims to be making the first consumer Volumetric 3D Display. For those who stopped keeping track of the ridiculous number of 3D displays there are, volumetric is by far the most exciting. The theory behind it is that it creates a 3D object in space through the use of light or other technologies. In layman terms, it essentially creates a hologram.
There are two more startups listed on the Kinect Accelerator site - Kimetric and Zebcare - but they both don't have sites available for them just yet. Once they have something more substantial to show like the other guys, I'm sure they'll make more information available.
All in all, it's a pretty impressive bunch of demos and technologies right now. I think I'm most impressed with Styku, but NCONNEX is pretty cool as well. Regardless, all of the finalists have amazing technologies that I can't wait to see mature under the Kinect Accelerator program.
Which startup is your favorite? Are you excited about the potential Kinect brings to computer applications? Let us know in the comments.