Microsoft chooses home automation startups for accelerator program

Microsoft will start working with the companies this fall

Microsoft has chosen 10 home automation startups that it will support in various ways through an accelerator program, in the hopes of helping them develop their technologies and products.

The program, backed also by American Family Insurance, comes from Microsoft Ventures and was announced in June. More than 400 companies submitted applications.

"The startups selected for this accelerator will receive the mentorship, tools and connections they need to accelerate business growth," wrote Steven Guggenheimer, corporate vice president and chief evangelist, Microsoft Developer Experience and Evangelism, in a blog post Wednesday.

American Family Insurance, a large homeowners' insurance provider in the U.S., will bring to the table its expertise about home safety and the impact that "smart" technology can have on houses, their owners and insurance.

"We share the belief that over time the home automation trend will fundamentally change how we interact with and manage our homes -- making them more efficient, communicative and ultimately safer," Guggenheimer wrote.

The 10 startups, which will showcase their wares at a "Demo Day" in December, focus on areas such as energy management, water heating, security, wearable devices for managing home appliances, lighting controls, sensors for monitoring air quality and humidity, and fire prevention.

Home automation is part of the "Internet of things" (IoT) market, which Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has identified as an area of growth opportunity for the company, especially for the Windows OS and Azure cloud computing families of products.

American Family Insurance is also offering a minimum optional US$25,000 equity investment in each of the program startups, which are: Chai Energy, Heatworks, Neura, Novi Security, Reemo, Plum, Red Balloon Security, Scanalytics, Sentri and Wallflowr.

Juan Carlos Perez covers enterprise communication/collaboration suites, operating systems, browsers and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Juan on Twitter at @JuanCPerezIDG.

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