Thursday, January 6, 2011

Avatar Kinect & Kinect Enhansed Movie Viewing Announced at CES

Microsoft's Kinect is gangbusters at retail and now it's getting a little bit of new functionality-

Kinect Transforms Entertainment in the Living Room
Kinect is a prime example of how natural user interface (NUI) is transforming gaming by making it more social and approachable than anyone ever thought was possible, but it’s just the beginning, Dennis said. Several CES announcements showed how Microsoft will take Kinect’s controller-free experience beyond gaming and into entertainment throughout the year. This spring, for example, Xbox LIVE Gold subscribers will be able to use Kinect to control Netflix on Xbox LIVE. Viewers will be able to pause, rewind, and fast-forward streaming movies with only their voice or gestures.
The company also announced that Hulu Plus will be coming to Xbox LIVE as a Kinect-enabled experience this spring. As with Netflix, subscribers will be able to use controller-free motion and voice capabilities to instantly watch full-screen popular TV shows anytime in HD.
Also at CES, the Xbox team introduced a new social experience called Avatar Kinect that will use Kinect’s camera and sensor to bring a player’s avatar to life. It leverages Kinect’s facial recognition technology to let a person control their avatar’s movements and expressions; when they smile, frown, nod and speak, the avatar will do the same, Dennis said.
With Avatar Kinect, a player can invite up to seven friends to join them in one of 15 imaginative virtual environments. One of those worlds is a performance stage, where friends can record their performance and share with friends.
Ooooh, voice control for Netflix and Hulu is a great idea.

Not really sold on the Avatar Kinect feature set though. We've already seen with Sony's Playstation Home (although it's a little bit of a different animal), that kind of thing isn't really all it's cracked up to be- at least not yet.

It sounds good, but 'on paper' doesn't always translate all that great to actual usability.