Microsoft hypes Avatar Kinect ahead of launch

Microsoft is hyping Avatar Kinect a few weeks ahead of its official release. 

Slated to launch at the end of May, the new platform – first unveiled at CES 2011 – uses Kinect’s capabilities to project faces and expressions into a virtual world. 

With Avatar Kinect, Xbox 360 owners can hang out and talk with seven friends in a number of themed environments, such as talk-show sets, tailgate parties and magical forests.

“The work that we did [for Avatar Kinect] was taking something that was essentially a demo and turning it into a product,” explained MS exec Eric Lang. 

“It’s a huge amount of work, including developing algorithms for facial expressions and making sure the computer vision could work with Kinect.”

According to Lang, Avatar Kinect was brought to life in Microsoft Research as a study of the “geometry of a gaze,” but was subsequently “incubated” by the Startup Business Group.

“We worked closely with Microsoft’s Interactive Entertainment Business, tweaked the technology, refined it, and built a home for it on Kinect,” said Lang.

Pete Thompson, general manager of Xbox LIVE, believes the above-mentioned cross-division collaboration represents “the best of Microsoft’s R&D.”

“It was personally very gratifying to see the teams come together and find creative solutions. 

The end result is a highly-curated [platform] that is very compelling, but also has tremendous headroom for future innovation from Microsoft and its partners… [Clearly], Avatar Kinect is just the beginning.”