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Microsoft pushes Avatar Kinect live to Xbox users

Microsoft's Avatar Kinect video chat software is now available to Xbox users. That's the software that tracks facial movements with Microsoft's Kinect hardware and mimics them onscreen.

Avatar Kinect's beach scenery. Insert gamers not getting outdoors joke here.
Avatar Kinect's beach scenery. Insert 'gamers not getting outdoors' joke here.

Microsoft this morning pushed Avatar Kinect out to Xbox 360 users with its $150 Kinect motion camera accessory.

The software, which was publicly unveiled by Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer at CES in January, tracks facial movements and applies them to the user's virtual representation onscreen. That means if your head is cocked, or your eyebrows are raised, those same motions get translated onscreen. The technology is bundled into the Avatar Kinect software, which serves as a casual chat room for up to eight people in one of 24 virtual scenes.

The new chat tool joins a handful of other mini applications offered by Microsoft as part of its Kinect Fun Labs, which launched last month. On Thursday, Microsoft plans to add "Kinect Sparkler" to that collection of apps, $3 software that tracks hand movements to write with light on a 3D virtual canvas.

As part of the Avatar Kinect launch Microsoft is making the feature free for all Xbox Live members up until September 8. After that the feature will only be available to paying Xbox Live gold subscribers.