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    Avatar Kinect hands-on: cutesy telepresence that's purely experimental

    Avatar Kinect hands-on: cutesy telepresence that's purely experimental

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    If you've been pining to gesticulate like a virtual Steve Ballmer, you need only turn on your Xbox 360 today -- at long last, Avatar Kinect is here, promising to let you literally control your Xbox Live avatar with the nod of your head. Assuming you've got a Kinect handy and an Xbox Live account, you can download the software from Kinect Fun Labs immediately and use it for free through September 8th, though we'll warn you that it's just as experimental a novelty as anything else in that bag of tricks. In fact, it appears to be changed little from when we saw the app at CES 2011, in that you basically just wave your arms and head as you like, and the software makes a feeble attempt to replicate the expression on your face. There's no finger tracking here, unfortunately, though you can record videos of your antics.

    The idea looks to be that you'll hang out virtually in one of 24 themed rooms (like "Magic Forest" and "Sports Party") with up to eight of your Xbox Live buddies at a time, laughing or smiling if you can, but probably just frowning at the lack of accurate recognition or anything particularly exciting. It's an amusing little diversion, especially for the Kinectimals crowd, and a proof of concept that could possibly appear in games down the line. Check out our video after the break to get a rough idea of what it's like.