Microsoft after some initial hesitation, the tech giant is now actively encouraging developers to tinker with its Kinect hands-free user interface accessory for the XBox 360.
Until now, those hacks have been encouraged for non-commercial purposes only. But the company took things to the next level this week when it announced the Kinect Accelerator, a program for startups who want to build creative uses for the Kinect into their businesses.
Ten winners will enter into the three-month program next spring and set up shop in Seattle. Companies will get a $20,000 investment from TechStars, free office space, access to Microsoft's BizSpark program, and mentorship and training from Microsoft executives and investors. It also includes the Windows Kinect SDK and XBox development kit, of course.
So what sort of things will developers build with the Kinect SDK? Sky's the limit, says Microsoft, but it has to have a valid business idea behind it. We've already seen quite a few creative hacks, from medical uses such as helping stroke patients to interactive art installations to educational applications that put today's "smart" classrooms to shame.
The finished product must be an application of some kind that runs on either Windows or Xbox, even if it's an alternate view of an app that also exists in the browser or on mobile devices. It can be for use in education, medicine, industry, entertainment, art or just about any use case developers can dream up.
Given what's already been done with the Kinect just for fun, it should be interesting to see what kinds of things get built with the support of a startup incubator and Microsoft's ample resources.
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