Microsoft to Redefine TV Using Full-Body Motion Control

Dennis Faas's picture

Microsoft has announced "Avatar Kinect," a new add-on for the Xbox 360 Kinect motion-sensitive video game peripheral. It would allow voice and motion commands to take the place of the traditional remote control, in addition to several other changes that would re-define the ways in which we watch television.

At the recent Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer expressed his company's ambition to make television a more social experience. Among the most significant changes would see television viewers conversing with one another as avatars in different virtual settings.

Avatars Mimic Facial Features, Movements

While the Nintendo Wii also offers personalized avatars, Microsoft assures that the Xbox 360-based ones will be much different, especially since Kinect technology has the ability to read and interpret player motion without a controller.

According to Ballmer, this means "Kinect can track features like your smile, your laugh and even the raise of your eyebrows." He accentuated this statement by displaying a bald avatar of himself, with digital eyebrows that bounced up and down. (Source:

But the Kinect also offers full-body motion control. Ballmer revealed that this feature would further their partnerships with Netflix and HuluPlus, letting users control those video apps by waving their hands and talking to the system to select and play movies and television shows.

Currently a Limited Application

The Avatar Kinect feature is available to those who own the Kinect Xbox 360 add-on ($149 USD) and also pay a subscription fee for an Xbox Live membership, which is valued at $50 USD per year. (Source:

Currently, the only application available for Avatar Kinect is for a virtual online chat room, which is expected to be available in the Spring of 2011. The chat rooms will allow the gathering of up to seven friends in virtual locations using avatars to represent each online user.

Up to 15 different meeting place themes will be available, including: a beach, a talk show, a tailgate party, and a performance stage, among others. (Source:

Rate this article: 
No votes yet