Startups Burst into Motion at Kinect Accelerator Demo Day
Thursday was the climactic final day for the first class of TechStars’ Kinect Accelerator, concluding not only with the standard on-stage pitches expected at a Demo Day, but also with a room full of actual, live, working demos.
I was a mentor with the accelerator, and looking back across the full 13 weeks of the program, I’d say it was a clear success. Eleven teams began in early April with dreams of startup success, and eleven teams moved forward from yesterday with clear plans, polished stories, and most with actual customers, partners, and sales leads.
The theme of this first accelerator was the Kinect, and specifically Kinect for Windows, expanding the uses of Microsoft’s motion- and sound-sensing device beyond the Xbox. The range of ideas from these eleven companies was vast. This included using the Kinect as a measuring device for clothing (Styku), furniture (Nconnex), or any 3D model (Manctl); as an interface for a hands-free medical operating room (GestSure); and as a motion capture device for rehabilitation (Jintronix), sports training (Ikkos), watching over seniors (Zebcare), or watching a retail store to generate in-store shopper analytics (Kimetric).
Two standout companies were at opposite extremes of simplicity and complexity. By far the simplest idea presented was by übi, which has created a software package that turns any surface into a touchscreen. Any existing video projector or screen can be paired with a Kinect to turn the video image into a fully interactive, multi-touch touchscreen.
Meanwhile, the most audacious concept attempted and presented was by Voxon. Voxon’s vision is to seed the next evolution of media, moving beyond the “flat” movies and video we are used to today to full “holographic” movies (“voxies”), displayed in true 3D from any and every angle. Toward that end, Voxon demonstrated a motion capture platform, true 3D camera, and the VoxiBox “holographic” display, all of which will be available soon as kits via Kickstarter, according to the company.
And one company needs to be called out on its own for setting a new high bar for presentations. Kudos to Freak’n Genius for an exciting, highly polished mix of animation and live performance, not only showing all future Tech Stars companies how to do a Demo Day presentation, but at the same time “eating their dog food” and using their own product in that process.
For those who missed it, a couple of photos from the event are below. Congratulations to Microsoft and Tech Stars for adding yet another great tool to the Seattle entrepreneurial ecosystem. This program shows not only the power of business accelerators, but also what is possible when established companies like Microsoft join in the efforts at making Seattle a go-to city for entrepreneurs.
And good luck to the graduates, as Thursday was just the start of your journeys…