Microsoft's Cheney-esque powerhouse Steve Ballmer just announced that Kinect is getting a virtual chat service. Dubbed "Avatar Kinect," this new Xbox Live service will allow you to communicate with friends in a virtual space using your Xbox avatar, now enabled with real-time voice chat and motion controls.
Move your mouth at home, and your friends see your Avatar move its mouth on their screen. Flail your arms around like a maniac, and your avatar will do the same. It reminds me a lot of the ill-fated Wii Speak channel that Nintendo rolled out a while back, only with a lot more features, and a chance of actually being successful.
The downside is it looks like your Avatar may need to remain seated during these chats. Sure, you get a variety of virtual spaces to hang out in, ranging from the fantastic to the semi-realistic. But if you can't get out of your seat, how are you supposed to give your virtual friends virtual handshakes?!
That's what people do with webcams, right? Give their friends virtual handshakes?
Avatar Kinect will launch this spring, and will be free to all Xbox Live Gold members. We'll have more details this week; stay tuned.