Microsoft Wants To Play Xtranormal’s Game

on Thursday, Jan. 13th

Last week, Turnstyle writer Nishat Kurwa told us the story of the rise of insta-animation site Xtranormal. You’ve probably seen the video of the dog-bear-cat things making fun of iPhone fanatics. Well at nearly the same time that Nishat’s piece was airing on NPR a well known Microsoft fanatic- CEO Steve Ballmer- was making an announcement on stage at CES that has the potential to really ruin any plans Xtranormal has for world domination.

The announcement came in the form of Avatar Kinect, a software update for Microsoft’s XBox 360/Kinect combo. This past Christmas Microsoft sold 8 million Kinect sensors for use with their popular video game console, creating a huge user base in a single season.

Avatar Kinect lets users control their cartoon like user profile’s facial and body gestures inside chat rooms. So instead of having to program the reactions of the characters or use a controller, the digital puppets just react to your facial expressions and hand gestures.

The news alone wouldn’t affect Xtranormal, but MS isn’t just building a chat room. You can record these exchanges- which like Xtranormal’s can happen on a number of different backgrounds- and then post them online. The biggest differences between the two are that it is the user’s voice that is being used as the audio track, and the different “parts” in any scenario would have to be acted out by others.

Will millions of people across America try their hand at being cartoon Oprah when the update comes out this Spring?

Corey McCall with the video game controller that measures the level of excitement in the player. Linda A. Cicero / Stanford News Service

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