A sunny northwestern afternoon of gesture control

Last night my colleague Eytan and I left the grey skies and pouring rain of New York City for the bright sunshine of Seattle, so that today we could go visit the Microsoft Kinect Accelerator and meet with some of the startups that are participating in the program. We had a great time and met lots of interesting folks.

The startups are all set up in one big room with small conference rooms along the side walls. There are Kinects everywhere, both the original model and the new one for Windows. Lots of great energy, and on Wednesdays they get bagels. Each startup has it’s own little set of cubes, and within those are islands of in-progress technology. Here’s a picture I took of the space:

We met with five exciting startup teams. Below is a short summary of each one, but with time we hope to cover them in more depth as they grow and launch exciting stuff.

  • Freak’n Genius – You either approach a public screen or launch a downloadable game. As you do, via Kinect, you (and a friend) take control of animated character(s) on the screen. As you move, they move. One branded demo they have allows you to create a video where you move the character and provide its voice, and then save the completed video for sharing elsewhere. Lots of fun and entertaining possibilities here.


  • Ubi – A new approach to create touchscreens on any surface. A screen is projected onto a wall, and a Kinect is placed atop the projector. Via a simple calibration program, the Kinect can sense where on the wall you are touching and translate those actions to the connected computer. The resulting interface supports multi-touch interactions.



  • Styku – A really interesting take on the elusive problem of finding clothing online that fits. They have a 4-Kinect rig that can do a full body scan of you in a matter of moments, and then generate an approximate avatar of your body. You can then apply different clothing items to the avatar. The program uses the original CAD drawings of the clothing to make sure the representation is as precise as possible. There’s also a one-Kinect version being worked on for home use.



  • Kimetric – A combination of capabilities we’ve seen in some technologies already in the lab, this startup from Argentina aims to take retail analytics to a new level. A Kinect camera not only gathers information about age and gender of who is standing in front of it, but also tracks which products they pick up and controls which content they see on an attached screen. Moreover, they have a nice HTML5 analytics interface to represent the large amounts of data they collect on the retail experience.



  • Nconnex – This team is developing a special tool that will allow you to make 3D scans of a room and/or furniture items using a Kinect sensor, and then manipulate them in a 3D environment. So as an example, a furniture store could lend you a Kinect and you could use it to scan your room. Then they would provide you with 3D models of their furniture, and you can arrange the furniture in the room to see how it will fit. Not only does this save you the trouble of remembering exactly how wide your bedroom is in feet, or worse measuring your whole house, but it also captures color and texture information.