Microsoft Pays Startups to Create Software Using Kinect

Microsoft is introducing a company-funded incubator program in China for outside developers to build projects based on its popular Kinect technology, hoping to fuel innovation beyond gaming and into industries like healthcare and retail. Last year in Seattle, Microsoft gave select startups $20,000 each to create software, of which it requires no ownership stakes or intellectual property rights and has no veto power.

“What Microsoft gets are developers around the world working on ideas that could potentially open up Kinect for Windows’ technology to new markets — and convince consumers and businesses to buy the company’s hardware and make use of the potential apps,” writes the Wall Street Journal.

With Kinect for Windows, developers have the chance to create new software using gesture-control technology. “It can sense depth,” said Dave Malcolm, a Microsoft veteran who now manages the Microsoft Accelerator Powered by TechStars. “The Kinect knows where you are, with or without a camera.”

“In addition to an infrared camera and projector, the Kinect features a microchip that performs ‘skeletal tracking,’ or following movement without using a camera lens,” explains the article. “Skeletal tracking could one day lead to digital signs that can recognize passersby, or virtual dressing rooms where shoppers can ‘try on’ new shirts without undressing.”

Regarding the use of this technology in the healthcare industry, “Boston-based Atlas5D Inc., a graduate of Microsoft’s Seattle program that is currently on the hunt for venture funding, is working on a device that can scan a room for people and objects and sense subtle patterns of movement. CEO Zeb Kimmel believes his product, which uses a radar and imaging technology, will be able to identify changes in posture or gait so subtle that it will be able to predict problems, like falls, before they happen, he said.”

For example, small strokes, osteoarthritis and pneumonia are all detectable by examining a person’s movements, so changes could be reported to the patient and family members via email. Severe changes can be reported via text alerts.