One of the core ideas behind Startup Weekend is that smart people from various backgrounds and professions can do great things if given the time to work together. Perhaps no effort better exemplifies that concept than Kinetix Academy, the winning team at Seattle Startup Weekend.
Comprised of pediatric physical therapist Mari Therrien; speech language pathologist Dan Stachelski; Xbox developer Justin Woo; and designer Shashi Shashidhar; Kinetix Academy came together to solve a complex and challenging problem: develop games and educational curriculum to help kids with autism.
Or, as the company notes in their FAQ: “We’re going to kick autism’s ass.” You got to love that fighting spirit, and the tool that the Kinetix Academy is utilizing to get the idea off the ground is Microsoft’s very own Kinect sensor.
Using reward systems such as points, stars and levels, the idea is that kids can engage their entire body in the process of learning. “This kinesthetic technology and game-based system is inherently motivating,” according to the company. And it is especially effective with kids with autism, a disorder that can effect motor skills and lead to difficulty with social interactions or focusing on tasks.
Kinetix Academy plans to release its first game later this year, and then roll out new games every three to six months. It also plans to test the games at autism centers, and collect data via the Kinect sensor that could be used to better understand the disorder.
Other winners at the event this past weekend included 6 Degrees of Recommendation, which uses one’s social graph to get qualified recommendations for purchase decisions, and Slackr, a mobile app for easily sharing and selling notes from class.
[GeekWire's Rebecca Lovell contributed to this report]