Microsoft has announced a new Kinect-based group chat system to be incorporated into Xbox Live in 2011.
Microsoft had more than the incredible sales success of Kinect to announce at its recent CES 2011 presentation. Microsoft CEO Steve Balmer also demonstrated a new feature coming to Xbox Live called Avatar Kinect.
Dubbed a "new way to socialize on Xbox Live," Avatar Kinect is a group chat system that uses Kinect to detect a user's body movements and translates them onto their Xbox Live avatar. It has a surprising level of accuracy at reading facial movements while talking, smiling, raising eyebrows, or laughing.
Avatar Kinect features many different backgrounds, such as a tailgating party, a "gothy" forest, and space. Why become an astronaut when you can just chat in space through Kinect?
It isn't quite Microsoft's version of PlayStation Home, as it mostly looks like a chat application, but it could be the first step toward a larger project. Avatar Kinect does allow users to record their chats and upload them online, with Microsoft's trailer showing off the idea of creating an Avatar Kinect talk show for Facebook.
So it's basically like video chat without the video and with Kinect-altered Xbox Live avatars instead, which could be a fun little application if integrated into Xbox Live properly. Avatar Kinect will be available for all Xbox Live Gold users in spring 2011.