Microsoft's Avatar Kinect, which lets users control an avatar using body movements and facial motions measured by the Kinect 3D camera, is now available as a free download through Kinect Fun Labs.
The new feature, first announced at a CES keynote address earlier this year
, allows Kinect owners to chat with up to seven other avatars through Xbox Live, and to take screenshots and videos which can be shared via Facebook and KinectShare.com.
The service is currently free to all Xbox users, but will be limited to those with a paid Xbox Live Gold subscription starting September 8.
Microsoft will be promoting the launch with an Avatar Kinect Stand-up Comedy Fest
, highlighting 90-second clips of avatars controlled by professional stand-up comics starting July 28.
Also on July 28, Microsoft will launch Kinect Sparkler, a 240 MS point ($3) Fun Labs app that allows for 3D finger painting.
"Avatar Kinect and Sparkler are fun, creative experiences that allow consumers to get a sneak preview of cutting-edge Kinect technologies today instead of waiting until it’s in full-blown games," Microsoft Startup Business Group general manager Eric Lang said in a statement.
"Some of this technology may be realized in games farther in the future, but we worked on these Fun Labs projects to offer a compelling, fun and cool experience that we could deliver today, using the power of Kinect," added Microsoft Startup Business Group senior product manager Umaimah Mendhro.