Avatar Kinect, a new application for the Xbox 360, is now available for download on Microsoft’s Xbox Marketplace. The new program uses Kinect’s extremely accurate motion sensors to let users communicate with each other using their avatars. Ever wished you were a talking cartoon? This is your chance.

Avatar Kinect

Avatar Kinect was released as part of Kinect Fun Labs, a service for Kinect users unveiled last month that aims to help consumers get the most out of the Kinect hardware. Avatar Kinect is only one of the first of many programs Microsoft is planning to launch under this service, but it’s certainly interesting and in line with recent advancements we’ve seen in online social interaction over the past few weeks (Google+ and Facebook’s improved chat service, for example), although it takes it to a whole new level. Instead of just displaying a video feed of users on the screen, Avatar Kinect will simulate a whole environment of the user’s liking and display the avatars of all the participants, as you can see in the image below.

Avatar Kinect

Using Kinect’s advanced motion tracking, every participant’s movements will be accurately reproduced in the virtual setting, from hand gestures to facial expressions, even the movement of eyebrows. From the comfort of your couch, you can now talk to your friends in the middle of a garage if you’re so inclined.

More than just video conferencing, Avatar Kinect can also be used to host virtual events that can be broadcast to anywhere in the world where there’s an Xbox 360 and a Kinect, as Microsoft explained in a press release:

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.

Kinect is a hardware add-on for the Xbox 360 that allows for motion-based console interaction without a controller. While originally meant for games only, Microsoft has recently begun finding other applications for the product, including telecommunications and even advanced Windows apps, thanks to the Kinect SDK for Windows which was released last month.

Avatar Kinect is available for free to Xbox Gold members, although Microsoft is making it available to all Xbox Live users on a temporary basis for the next 45 days in order to let everyone experience it. Get it from here.

(via Microsoft Press Release)

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