The Kinect Accelerator

As someone obsessed with human computer interaction, the Kinect is an important piece of hardware. Of all the various things Microsoft is working on these days, I find it the most interesting. I’ve seen some awesome things done with it by my friends at Oblong and Organic Motion and saw a ton of neat hacks at last year’s Blur Conference.

Recently, Microsoft announced the Kinect Accelerator, a program created to incubate startups building the next generation of innovative experiences for the Kinect. Microsoft’s Kinect Accelerator is powered by TechStars and applications for the Kinect Accelerator are now being accepted through January 25, 2012. If accepted, each company will receive an equity investment of $20,000 in exchange for six percent of the company in common stock, which will be held by TechStars. While Microsoft is putting significant effort into the accelerator program, Microsoft will not retain intellectual property or equity in any of the participating companies.

From March to June 2012, the companies will co-locate in space provided by Microsoft in Seattle where they will be provisioned Xbox development kits, Kinect hardware, the Kinect for Windows SDK and space for testing and developing Kinect based applications. Microsoft BizSpark will also supply each of the companies with a full complement of Microsoft development tools and support.

The companies will interact with and have access to mentors during the course of the program including Microsoft executives, entrepreneurs, and investors. The goal is to help new startups develop both the technology around their Kinect experience as well as the business model so the resulting company can prosper as an independent entity after the program.

Some of the mentors, in addition to me, include:

  • Jeff Powers, Founder, Occipital,
  • Andrew Tschesnok, Founder, Organic Motion
  • Manu Kumar, Investor, K-9 Ventures
  • Eran Egozy, Founder and CTO Harmonix
  • David Cohen, Founder/CEO, TechStars
  • Eric Norlin, Organizer, Blur, Defrag, and Glue conferences
  • Jason Mendelson, Managing Director, Foundry Group

Some of the Microsoft mentors include:

  • Dan’l Lewin, Corporate VP, Strategic and Emerging Business Development
  • Craig Eisler, General Manager, Kinect for Windows
  • Phil Spencer, VP, Microsoft Games Studios
  • Anoop Gupta, Distinguished Scientist, Microsoft Research
  • Michael Mott, General Manager, Microsoft Games Studios
  • Rick Martinez, Executive Producer, Microsoft Studios
  • Dave Drach, Managing Director, Emerging Business Team
  • Adam Isgreen, Creative Director, Microsoft Studios
  • Jeff Matsushita, Executive Producer, Microsoft Studios,
  • Rhys Dekle, Director, Business Development, Microsoft Studios

David Malcolm, a former Microsoft executive and current TechStars mentor, will be the Managing Director of the Kinect Accelerator. Since the program is powered by TechStars, it’ll follow the standard TechStars timeline finishing up with a demo day at the end of the program.

If you are an entrepreneur working on something related to Kinect, I can’t imagine a better place to spend three months of your life accelerating your business. Apply now.