Microsoft Research reveal new Kinect avatar technology

Now that Microsoft has managed to ship close to 10 million Xbox 360 Kinect devices around the world, the research side of the company are working on new ways to really push the device to new levels.

USA Today has been privy to a demonstration of new Kinect based technology that Microsoft Research is working on behind the scenes. The demo shows off new high-polygon 3D modelled faces that can lip-sync words from a script almost perfectly.

In a video displayed on the site, Microsoft’s Chief Research and Strategy Officer Craig Mundie said “We could couple the body and the gesture recognition in order to create a full body avatar that has photorealistic features and full face animation”

While some of the technology will be used in the upcoming Avatar Kinect software update later this year, it seems that the company are well on the way to creating a human-like avatar for use on the Xbox 360 or a future Microsoft based console using Xbox 360 Kinect.

According to USA Today, Microsoft’s scientists in the Oxford, England are now working on a new software based 3D technology that will allow users to use the Kinect’s video and depth sensors to create detailed 3D images of homes.

Just this week Microsoft announced that Kinect for Windows SDK would be launched in the spring. Developers will have an official SDK to work from to create homebrew applications and games. Details about the Kinect SDK are still scarce, but with the wide range of available hacks and other interactive programs available, the possibilities for an open Kinect environment are endless.

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Wonder what will happen in years to come in the movie industries?

Will we still have actors or will the possibility of computer animation perfect replication of humans take over?

It's good work - but like he says, it lip syncs to a script. The real amazing stuff, accurately lip syncing whilst you're talking, it still entirely theoretical as he says. The fact that it's applied to an avatar isn't entirely relevant, it was liekly just the quickest and simplest thing to apply the technology too.

PreKe said,
Uncanny Vally.

This will not sell games.


Uncanny valley in video games? Nope. People don't expect absolute realism in video games, yet.

This is immensely different than a simple gaming and entertainment peripheral. It has for more uses and possibilities ahead of it. Granted we've seen hacks to that cause, but this is directly from MS and intended for use.

Good times to live in.

Azyr said,
This is immensely different than a simple gaming and entertainment peripheral. It has for more uses and possibilities ahead of it. Granted we've seen hacks to that cause, but this is directly from MS and intended for use.

Good times to live in.


did you miss the 'Microsoft Research' part?
pretty much everything they develop in the Research labs of Microsoft, never gets released (altho knowhow gets used in their RTM products).

Shadowzz said,

did you miss the 'Microsoft Research' part?
pretty much everything they develop in the Research labs of Microsoft, never gets released (altho knowhow gets used in their RTM products).

Although what you say seems to be true, there is some variation.

Microsoft's R&D has operated in a 5 to 10 to 15 year out model, so that technology they were working on 10 or 15 years ago, will be in Windows 8.

Some technology does get an internal bump and gets released rather quickly. However, this hasn't always worked out, due to introducing 10 year out technology to consumers when the costs are too high and the computing power is too low for people to adopt it outside of business or niche markets.

Look at Tablets, Microsoft has had slate touch and pen tablets since the early 90s, with Pen Windows, and also tried again with newer technology based on WinCE tablets in the late 90s, they then tried again with XP TabletPCs.

Every time, the technology was good, and handy, but computing power was behind he form factor and costs were far beyond the average person.

Apple paid attention and, when touch screen costs hit a point that could be dropped into devices cheaply with low power batteries, they ran with it, first with the iPhone, marketing it to general phone buyers, and then with the iPad.

Apple's timing was smart, and Microsoft pushing out their R&D early did little for Microsoft, as the world doesn't even think Microsoft, let alone realize that Microsoft's tablet technology still has features from the late 90s that is outside of what Apple offers. (Handwriting would be the big example, as the iPad doesn't have the power, and even Apple's OS X doesn't have the ink modeling concepts that makes handwriting on Microsoft Tablet technologies virtually flawless.)

So with R&D you never know, as it may be something down the road a long ways, or something that is a bit out of the current computing power or consumer costs. And you are right, some stuff never comes out as 'product' but instead is technology that other products are built on.

thenetavenger said,

Although what you say seems to be true, there is some variation.

Microsoft's R&D has operated in a 5 to 10 to 15 year out model, so that technology they were working on 10 or 15 years ago, will be in Windows 8.

Some technology does get an internal bump and gets released rather quickly. However, this hasn't always worked out, due to introducing 10 year out technology to consumers when the costs are too high and the computing power is too low for people to adopt it outside of business or niche markets.

Look at Tablets, Microsoft has had slate touch and pen tablets since the early 90s, with Pen Windows, and also tried again with newer technology based on WinCE tablets in the late 90s, they then tried again with XP TabletPCs.

Every time, the technology was good, and handy, but computing power was behind he form factor and costs were far beyond the average person.

Apple paid attention and, when touch screen costs hit a point that could be dropped into devices cheaply with low power batteries, they ran with it, first with the iPhone, marketing it to general phone buyers, and then with the iPad.

Apple's timing was smart, and Microsoft pushing out their R&D early did little for Microsoft, as the world doesn't even think Microsoft, let alone realize that Microsoft's tablet technology still has features from the late 90s that is outside of what Apple offers. (Handwriting would be the big example, as the iPad doesn't have the power, and even Apple's OS X doesn't have the ink modeling concepts that makes handwriting on Microsoft Tablet technologies virtually flawless.)

So with R&D you never know, as it may be something down the road a long ways, or something that is a bit out of the current computing power or consumer costs. And you are right, some stuff never comes out as 'product' but instead is technology that other products are built on.


So true, Windows has been on mobile devices for AGES. I remember my dad having this little PC pad thingy thats pretty much the same as those 'smart' phones nowadays, my dad had one over a decade ago and it did the same (if not more) as the iPhone or iPad. iirc it was WinCE tho. Not to much interesting, but still a proper mobile OS. And lately its all 'OMG iPhone and iPad are so new! so special!' while the technologies are from the 90s

Also Vista had the same problem as you described, the Home end-user did not have the systems to run the OS very properly. The first year, they (not MS, but vendors) sold Vista machines on crappy 32bit sucky first generation dual cores of Intel with a whopping 1GB of RAM to use.
Thats how Vista got a bad name, beeing run on crappy hardware... then the driver system had an overhaul so all manufactures had to rewrite their drivers to work with vista. And that took forever before the drivers where getting released. Even tho Vista is a very good OS. In every way superior to winXP.

I personally wonder if they are inplementing technology they gotten from Singularity. The setup of Singularity's kernel is just amazing. Also a project that was (unfortunally) never really finished

Ambroos said,
Cool and slightly creepy

Just think what the next Xbox Avatars could look like. How crazy would it be if it's actually your face this time around?