Microsoft today made Avatar Kinect
available for download, while the company's Kinect Sparkler will be also released next week.
Avatar Kinect, available today, lets you ? or rather your personalized avatar ? interact with or hang out with up to seven other friends in 24 virtual stages ranging from a late-night talk show set to outer space to a sports tailgate party. To make the cyber socializing more real, Kinect?s camera tracks gestures and facial expressions ? eyebrow raises, smiles, belly laughs and all.
Once the download is complete, you can either select 'Play Now' from the download screen, or later, you can return to the Guide and select the "Games" tab, then "Quick Launch" to play. If you have FunLabs, go to "My Gadgets" and select "Avatar Kinect." Once you upload your movies, then go to KinectShare.com where you can watch the video, download it or share it out on Facebook.
Kinect Sparkler, available later this week, lets players use their fingers to draw sparkling lines that whirl glowing, gold stars in front of, behind, and around 3-D photographs of themselves.
"Avatar Kinect and Sparkler are fun, creative experiences that allow consumers to get a sneak preview of cutting-edge Kinect technologies today instead of waiting until it's in full-blown games," says Eric Lang, general manager for the Microsoft Startup Business Group.
Users can share creations from both Avatar Kinect and Sparkler with the wave of a hand on the Fun Labs Live friends feed or uploading to KinectShare.com. From KinectShare, users can share their creations on Facebook or download them to their computers, email them to friends, and more.
Avatar Kinect makes all kinds of interactive experiences possible - from hosting virtual events to creating your animated shows to just hanging out virtually with friends. Along with using Avatar Kinect to record monologues, or to chat with friends, there is potential for bloggers and podcasters to use the gadget as a new platform. When it comes to Kinect, including Avatar Kinect and Sparkler, "it's about forgetting your inhibitions and letting your funny, creative side out," Microsoft says.
To celebrate the launch of Avatar Kinect, Microsoft invited a handful of up-and-coming comedians to record stand-up routines - but to perform them as avatars, using some of the virtual stages in Avatar Kinect. The videos will go on the Facebook Xbox fan page
, where fans will get to vote for their favorite, and the winning comedian will get his or her routine highlighted by Xbox.
Kinect Fun Labs plans to release new applications (called gadgets) on a regular basis. Avatar Kinect is free for Xbox LIVE Gold subscribers who have Kinect, although it will be available to non-Gold-subscribers for 45 days so everyone can try it. Kinect Sparkler will cost 240 points on Xbox LIVE.
The gadgets are meant to showcase Kinect technology in an approachable way - things like finger tracking, facial expression tracking, object capture, player scanning and augmented reality, says Shawn Wright, design director for Good Science, a Microsoft subsidiary and developer of Fun Labs.