The Kinect has proved fertile ground for hackers and innovators all over the world, from individuals to student teams to established researchers. But as yet there haven’t been many commercial applications. Microsoft and TechStars are hoping to turn the creativity and momentum associated with the Kinect into some functioning startups.
Applications are being taken through January 25th; ten will be chosen and given the opportunity to participate in a three-month incubation program at Microsoft — and get $20,000 in seed funding. Got an idea for a new device, service, or method of using the Kinect’s low-cost real-time depth sensor? This could be a good opportunity — if you can afford to move to Seattle for a while this Spring. Don’t worry: the program is in the downtown area, not Redmond.
There are minor catches. TechStars, in exchange for funding and leading the program, will be getting a 6% stake in your new company (in common stock). And it’s not just a way to put the finishing touches on a game you’ve been working on. The goal is “to create businesses that leverage the Kinect for Xbox or Windows.” And since the Accelerator is based in South Lake Union, there will likely be daily rumbles with Amazon employees, who consider the area their exclusive territory.
Clearly, the idea is to package and monetize some of the creative energy going into the platform. It seems like a good fit for the student engineering teams we’ve seen that likely put their devices together with university tools. Travel to the Emerald City, get some expert help and learn your way around the SDK, and get a shot a creating a business. Microsoft doesn’t get to keep any of your IP or anything, but it’s no secret that you’re essentially working for them. What’s good for the Kinect is good for Microsoft.
There are more details and a FAQ at Microsoft, and TechStars has a blog entry as well. The application form is here.