These Start-Ups Aren’t Goofing Off When It Comes to Microsoft’s Kinect

Most people are familiar with Kinect today because it is the motion-controlled accessory for the Xbox that allows you to wave your hands around to virtually play tennis or dance without using a controller.

But since it came out a couple of years ago, a number of ideas have sprouted up for applications beyond gaming.

Microsoft decided to support this grassroots movement by hosting a special Kinect edition of TechStars, which gives entrepreneurs 13 weeks and $20,000 to get off the ground.

Eleven companies were chosen from nearly 500 applicants to participate in the program, which took place in Seattle; today, the founders made 20-minute presentations at Microsoft’s headquarters in front of a roomful of investors, in hopes of raising their first round.

The ideas varied dramatically, but for the most part, no one was playing around.

Many of the concepts revolved around the health care industry. Jintronix, for example, is trying to make it easier and less expensive for patients to continue physical therapy. Another idea, from Styku, was targeting e-commerce companies to create more efficient ways to try on clothes when shopping online. Lastly, and most goofy, were the folks from Freak’n Genius, which is allowing just about anyone to create cartoons and animations using real-life body movements. (Pictured on the right, Ubi Interactive demonstrates how it can turn any surface into a multitouch screen using Kinect.)

Here’s a brief description of the 11 companies that presented today:

  • Jintronix: Uses Kinect to track a patient’s movements to make physical therapy cheaper and more accessible.
  • Manctl: Uses 3-D technology to make it cheaper to make orthopedic molds for creating shoe insoles, or to fit bras more accurately.
  • Ikkos: Founded by an Olympic coach, the company is creating a way to train athletes by using the Kinect to track a user’s movements.
  • Kimetric: Uses Kinect sensors to track consumer behavior inside of retail stores.
  • NConnex: Enables consumers to create 3-D models for interior decorating or remodels.
  • Styku: Created by executives of Tukatech, which creates software for the fashion industry, is now making it possible to virtually try on clothing to find the perfect pair of jeans.
  • Ubi Interactive: Is using 3-D multitouch technology that turns any surface, including a coffee table or window, into a digital sign or game of Angry Birds.
  • Voxon: Giving artists and game designers the tools to create “holographic” entertainment and education.
  • Zebcare: Monitors senior citizens in the home to assure that your loved ones are safe.
  • Freak’n Genius: Makes it fun and easy for anyone to create animations using your whole body.
  • GestSure Technologies: Allows surgeons to navigate MRI and CT scans in the operating room while maintaining sterility.

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I’m a giant vat of creative juices.

— David Pogue on why he’s joining Yahoo