Kinect is the gift that keeps on giving – and today we launched Avatar Kinect as the newest gadget in Kinect Fun Labs. The video above shows the tech behind Avatar Kinect – tracking facial expressions and voice. When you smile, nod or speak, your avatar does the same. If you have a Kinect, you can go use it now – Avatar Kinect will require an Xbox LIVE Gold membership but to celebrate the release, from July 25 to September 8, all Xbox users (Silver and Gold) can use Avatar Kinect for free.
Your Avatar can inhabit any of the 24 “virtual stages” that place you and you and up to 7 of your friends in places like the Talk Show Stage or the Performance Stage – a couple of which are shown above. I’m extremely tempted to have a weekly Next at Microsoft newscast using my own Avatar – Craig Mundie did just this last week with Maria Bartiromo on CNBC and it worked pretty well. Craig also explained the potential of this tech and why it’s just the beginning of the natural user interface revolution.
My Avatar is way more entertaining and better looking than me so that news cast may not be far off.
Speaking of entertaining, Kinect Fun Labs has announced an Avatar Kinect Stand-Up Comedy Fest. The Comedy Fest is hosted on Facebook and will showcase some of Hollywood’s funniest stand-up comics. They each have 90 seconds to get some laughs using their Avatar. Check out www.facebook.com/xbox to vote. In doing so, you’ll be entered in to a draw to win an Xbox and Kinect. Though if you’re reading this, my guess is you’ll have one already.
Finally, we also announced Kinect Sparkler today which I’ve recently had the chance to play with. It shows the hand tracking capability of Kinect by transforming your simple finger painting into 3D light show. Your masterpiece can be uploaded to KinectShare.com as a video or photo and expect some art from me later this week when I get back from my travels. Kinect Sparkler will be available in Kinect Fun Labs this Thursday, July 28 for 240 Microsoft Points.