While various modders have been showing pretty interesting stuff they did with Kinect, Microsoft is also working on finding other uses for the camera, that is apart from playing games with it. In a video shown to USA Today, Microsoft chief research and strategy officer, Craig Mundie, demonstrated how Kinect can be used to create highly-detailed 3D avatars of your face.
"Theres no reason that we couldn't do that in real time by feeding in the information we get from a Kinect sensor, including its audio input and its 3D modeling spatial representation," Mundie said. "[We could] couple that the the body and the gesture recognition in order to create a full body avatar that has photorealistic features and full face animation."
Just last month, Microsoft introduced Avatar Kinect, a new upcoming service that will allow Xbox 360 owners to talk with each other, backed up with the Kinect sensor to add body movements and basic facial expressions. Since Microsoft has been pretty active with their Avatars, might as well go the distance with the camera.
Mundie, however, seems to be targeting much more sophisticated Kinect avatars. He intends to combine 3D modeling with 2D video to create "an avatar whose facial animation is very very realistic and the quality is almost like a photograph of a person. This is a way to create a synthetic model of people that will be acceptable to them when they look at them on television or in an Avatar Kinect kind of scenario."
These avatars would be detailed, high-polygon 3D models of a person's face, capable of accurate lip syncing and synthesizing words from text input. Down the road, these may also be used in Xbox Live games, where the player may actually enter the game using a highly accurate digital recreation of himself/herself as the main character.
In addition, Microsoft is also looking to use Kinect for practical domestic applications. In the future, you will be able to try out new furniture or color schemes for your home by allowing the camera to make digital recreations of the interiors displayed on your HD TV. As managing director at Microsoft Labs, Peter Lee, puts it, the company invests a lot its vast resources to "pushing the frontiers of human knowledge."
In less that four months after its launch, about 10 million Kinect sensors have been sold worldwide. Each of these camera could potentially be used to create avatars that look like you, talk like you, and even frown the way you would. For now, it's just a technical demonstration of what the camera is capable of, so don't be expecting these high-tech avatars on your dashboard anytime soon.
"Natural interaction with computers is most important going forward," says Mundie. "Kinect demonstrates that it's possible -- and appealing."
[via USA Today]