Today, Microsoft started rolling out their idea of the ‘next big thing’ for the Xbox 360’s latest and greatest technology in Kinect. Avatar Kinect, as it is being dubbed is tailored to replace video conferences with avatars being used in place of real life video, and for fun. But will the concept take off?
The technology itself was unveiled by Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmar at CES this past January, where he demoed Avatar Kinect showing that the Avatar mimicked your exact movements including that of mouth, eyebrow and head placement.
For all those interested, Avatar Kinect is going to be bundled in with the actual Kinect software and can be downloaded via Xbox Live, or by clicking this link. It is a rather large download (658MB), so be prepared to wait a while.
Looking around for first impressions of the software has pulled some rather interesting results. Not all it would seem are in favor of the technology, with Seattlepi feeling rather non excitable about it.
But, away from the negativity for the moment, lets focus on what kind of magic we can do with Avatar Kinect.
Avatar Kinect boasts to be something of the future. We’ve all seen it imagined before. People being able to transform into something or someone else and become part of a community who can chat about anything, at any time, about what they want, when they want. Microsoft even say that this kind of technology is what Kinect was all about from the get-go, and that video conferencing, while staying anonymous could be used for youth group-therapy sessions, allowing youths to talk with real life people to solve personal problems and issues.
But other than social video chats, what could this technology be useful for? I would like to bet that businesses will not be replacing their usual monthly video-link schedule with Avatar Kinect, unless of course you work in a toy store, but Microsoft have other plans up their sleeve.
KinectShare.com will allow you to create, record and playback your social interactments, and share them with the rest of the Kinect world. Other services have also been put on offer which are part of Kinect Fun Labs that include “Kinect Sparkler,” software that will track hand movements to write with light on a 3D virtual canvas.
For the time being, Avatar Kinect will be made available free for all Xbox Live members, but come September 8 the feature will turn gold, meaning that you must have a valid Xbox Live subscription to get in on the fun.
All in all, what do you think of Avatar Kinect? Do you think it is a good idea? Apart from the fun-factor, what else could it be used for? I guess the only way we will find out is to use it and see.