Avatar Kinect announced

As was rumoured yesterday, Microsoft used its CES 2011 keynote to announce a brand new piece of Kinect functionality – Avatar Kinect.

Using the camera, the software will translate users’ gestures into a virtual world populated by like-minded friends, and will also track their mouth movements and facial expressions when speaking. Up to eight people can be supported at any one time.

The action will take place in a variety of environments (there are 15 in total including a chat show and beach) and, notably for Kinect naysayers, sees users sitting down throughout most of the interaction. Sessions can also be recorded to create video webcasts to be shared online.

The software will also integrate with existing features such as the Xbox 360’s ESPN functionality.

Microsoft has also confirmed that Avatar Kinect will be exclusively available to Xbox Live Gold members. No release date has yet been announced.

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