The Kinetix Academy team from Seattle Startup Weekend

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.

Previously on GeekWireMeet the 6-year-old entrepreneur who just wowed Startup WeekendCan a game console help diagnose autism? Microsoft’s Kinect in a promising study

[GeekWire’s Rebecca Lovell contributed to this report]

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  • Tara Gowland

    Congrats to Mari and a great team! Ashwin is looking forward to helping whenever you need it :)

  • Justin Woo

    John, Thank you for this fantastic write up. 

    Thank you Tara, we would of course be honored if Ashwin would build us some stickers! :)
    In case you to follow/contact us: Facebook page:
    Twitter: @KinetixAcademy:twitter

  • Jamie

    My son is Autistic and I can tel you firsthand that video games keep his (short) attention span longer and better than anything else in this world. He is anxiously awaiting a kinect and it’s great for me, as a mom, to know that there are people out there seeing the connection and working to do something to improve his skills thru it!

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