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Microsoft demos photorealistic Kinect avatars

New tech for Avatar Kinect, plus 3D room-scanning planned

A new form of Xbox 360 avatar has been demonstrated by Microsoft, which attempts to simulate the look and mannerisms of players much more closely than the current cartoon style Avatars.

Shown for the first time in a video on the USA Today website, the technology uses a detailed model of the user's face and is able to accurately lip synch from a typed script - with the final product intended to interpret spoken words.

Although the existing Avatars have already been redesigned once for Kinect, to incorporate more realistic body proportions, the new style of avatar is intended as a fully accurate "synthetic model".

Microsoft chief research and strategy officer Craig Mundie suggests that the new technology could be used in the Avatar Kinect videoconferencing tool, even though it is currently designed for the original Avatar designs.

Other new technologies mentioned by Mundie include a British project to create detailed 3D images of a user's room and occupants. Mundie insists that researchers are being encouraged to think of Kinect as, "a primary motion- and voice-activated controller for the computerised home of the not-too-distant future".

"Natural interaction with computers is most important going forward," he comments. "Kinect demonstrates that it's possible - and appealing."

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