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When Microsoft introduced its new Kinect Accelerator startup program a few months ago, the company anticipated receiving about 150 applications. But nearly 500 startup companies applied, making the selection process “brutally hard,” said Craig Eisler, general manager for Kinect for Windows.

“It was really quite remarkable and awe inspiring to see so many ideas,” said Eisler, adding that it was also a bit “overwhelming” to narrow the field down to 10.

In fact, Eisler and his team couldn’t do it. So, instead of accepting 10 companies as they originally planned, they pulled a Spinal Tap and “went to 11.”

Those 11 companies (full list below) have been invited to Seattle this month to participate in the first-ever Kinect Accelerator, a joint venture of Microsoft and the startup incubator TechStars. The 11 teams will receive $20,000 in startup cash as well as access to Microsoft technologies and executives as they attempt to build out their new ideas on the back of Kinect.

Eisler declined to disclose details of each of the startups, but he said the majority are developing ideas around “real-world business problems” rather than the games that Kinect is best known for at this time. Microsoft will not hold an equity stake as a result of the program, instead hoping to bolster its Kinect ecosystem.

“What we hope to gain is really the acceleration, getting people to deep dive and think very deeply about what’s possible with Kinect while accelerating the use of Kinect in a broad-base of scenarios,” said Eisler.

Here’s a full look at those companies accepted into the program:

The presidential debate theme from Freak'n Genius, one of two Seattle companies accepted into the Kinect Accelerator

Freak’n Genius – Seattle, WA.

GestSure Technologies – Toronto, Canada.

IKKOS – Seattle, WA.

Kimetric – Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Jintronix Inc. – Montreal, Canada.

Manctl – Lyon, France.

NConnex – Hadley, MA.

Styku – Los Angeles, CA.

übi interactive – Munich, Germany.

VOXON – New York, NY.

Zebcare – Boston, MA.

Previously on GeekWireFreak’n Genius: Animation startup uses Microsoft Kinect to tap your inner goofball

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