Kinect devices might find their most useful homes in hospitals.
Since Microsoft launched Kinect for Windows and its attendant software development kit last year, the humble Xbox peripheral has found itself giving life to shopping carts, helping visually impaired people navigate obstacles, and grooming cats in tandem with a Wiimote (no, really). In an effort to assist entrepreneurs with the development of more useful implementations for its tech, Microsoft recently invited a bunch of them to use its resources to develop market-viable products using Kinect as part of its "Accelerator" program. The results, now ready for demonstration, are impressive - and surprisingly useful.
The entrepreneurs involved in the projects arrived in eleven teams, each with its own idea for a Kinect-based product. The roster of developed items is intriguing, with an unexpected number of them focussed on potential applications in hospitals and other rehabilitative environments.
GestSure Technologies, for instance, has designed a device that allows surgeons to navigate patient's MRI and CT scans in the operating room without compromising the area's sterility. Fellow startup team Jintronix has developed a system that allows physiotherapists to track the movements of patients within virtual environments, enabling them to gain valuable insight into how said patients are moving without invading their space. Additionally, Zebcare's Kinect device keeps track of seniors without filming or recording them, alerting carers and family members if they suffer a fall or similar (not sure I'll be asking my grandkids for one of these, but you never know).
There are also a few retail-friendly devices in the group, with Kimetric offering a system that allows retailers to track and analyze customer movements in order to better understand how people use their stores. If we're talking furniture stores here, NConnex has developed a system that allows consumers to move virtual furniture around a scan of any room in their house, allowing people to play The Sims with their own couch before investing in actually moving the thing.
So! That about does us for the interesting non-shouting-at-your-Xbox applications that have sprouted from Microsoft's first attempt at assisting startup companies interested in using Kinect. While none of them look set to light the whole world on fire, the sheer variety of potential - and useful - non-wave-your-hands-at-this-advertisment functions for the device is impressive. Do we see any of these making it to market, and if so, where else might they turn up in the future?