Avatar Kinect launches, Kinect Sparkler coming on July 28

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At E3 last month, Microsoft launched a new Xbox Live service called Kinect Fun Labs, a developer-supported platform equipped with tools that take advantage of the console developer’s motion camera peripheral. Avatar Kinect, the latest addition to the Fun Labs, arrives today, with Kinect Sparkler to follow on Thursday, according to a press release.

Formally announced earlier this year, Avatar Kinect is a social environment in which Xbox Live users can interact online in the guise of their customized Avatars. The app will be able to read and mimic your facial and body movements as well as capture your voice. It’s all broken down into “virtual stages” in which up to eight different Avatars can interact with one another. Some examples of these virtual stages are the Talk Show Stage, Performance Stage and Sports Party Stage. You’ll also be able to record videos here, complete with an AI producer managing the camera, and share them on KinectShare.com or simply download the raw video to your PC.

Kinect Sparkler was revealed at E3. It’s basically mid-air finger painting, with the camera reading your hand’s movements and filling the screen with colorful trails of light as you “draw.” You can also have the camera capture your body to be used as a stencil, and then tweak the image from there. Just like Avatar Kinect, any of your creations can then be shared via KinectShare.com.

Avatar Kinect is a free download for Xbox Live Gold members, though Silver members can take advantage of a free trial starting now and running through September 8. In addition, the Xbox 360’s Facebook portal is hosting a contest in which stand-up comedians are encouraged to record a bit and
share it, with the prize inexplicably being an Xbox 360 console and bundled Kinect. If you need a 360 + Kinect to enter, then what makes that prize package appealing?

As for Kinect Sparkler, the Fun Labs app will cost you 240 Microsoft Points.