What happens if you take 11 creative teams, give them three months to work on an idea, and a set of offices and social spaces in the Microsoft offices? Well, we know the answer now, because that's what the Microsoft Accelerator programme for Kinect has been all about.
Why Kinect? Craig Eisler, the GM of Kinect for Windows, says it's because "it allows startups to push the boundaries of what's possible with human interaction". And what's obvious from the outcome is that there are tons of innovative ideas taking off. There's a flavour of it in this video below:
At the end of the three months the 11 teams all presented their ideas to an audience of 100 venture capitalists, as they pitched to turn their projects into real products. Steve Clayton, of the Next at Microsoft blog, has a good write up of the projects, but a quick scan of the list gives you an idea of the kind of things we're going to see in real life soon.
Kinect Accelerator projects – and what it might mean for education
Here's just some of the projects in the Kinect Accelerator programme, and my thoughts on how they might be applied in education:
- Manctl using the 3D scanning abilities to manufacture items, and also creating miniature models for architecture and prototyping
- NConnex allowing individuals to create 3D models of their home, and then being able to 'try out' virtual furniture
Fabulous for design courses, to allow students to incorporate existing objects into design projects, and for the ability of students to create virtual versions of real spaces for experimentation and story telling.
- The Jintronix team that built a way of revolutionise physical rehabilitation, which currently costs the US over $20bn a year – and allows patients to take more ownership of their rehabilitation
- Ikos using Kinect for sports skills coaching and analysis
These two both have applications in schools, TAFEs and universities, where they could be used for sports coaching – to allow students to focus on their technique development.
- Ubi, aiming to turn any surface into an interactive touch display
- GestSure who are already helping surgeons to more efficiently manage x-ray scans during major surgery
Perhaps this could break away from limited size interactive whiteboards that require students to move to the front of the class, and allow us to create full wall-size interactive displays for big classrooms and lecture theatres. And the GestSure system could make it easier for teachers to manipulate learning resources and develop more interactive teaching practices.
- And Freak'N Genius, who have developed an animation system that allows everybody to become an animator (and which has already been downloaded by 11m people)
I bet this is the kind of thing that students will pick up before many teachers, as another way to tell stories and display what they've learnt (great for PDHPE work)
- Kimetric using Kinect to track customers as they move around a store, to bring the same kind of analysis that retailers can do in our online browsing to the store experience
- Zebcare using Kinect as a "smart radar" for helping elderly people and remote monitoring
This has all kinds of uses within education too. The current buzz about learning analytics is driven by all kinds of student online interactions – how often they log in to a learning management system; what their assessment data is showing etc. Imagine if you could jump beyond that and include some other kinds of data into the analysis. (I know this could go too far very easily, and so the ethics of this will probably be as important as the technology!)
Steve's Next at Microsoft story includes links to all of the project teams, so you can dig down into the detail until you know enough!