Kinect Fun Labs

Fun With Kinect

Not Always As Much Fun As You Hope

June 8, 2011
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This year at E3, Microsoft seemed determined to show everyone just why Kinect is so cool. After a couple decent games at launch, Kinect has been pretty quiet in the past few months, so it was nice to some major support for it and that a lot of it looked really cool. I’ve really wanted to like my Kinect, but honestly haven’t used it that much because, well, there hasn’t been much to use it with. That looks like it’s going to change in the next year. But until some of that cool new software shows up, Microsoft is getting people interested in using their Kinect again with Kinect Fun Labs. This is basically a demo program to show some of the cool uses of Kinect that haven’t been all that useful as of yet.

The new Kinect Me gadget is supposed to help you create a more accurate Mii-too using the Kinect camera. The camera will scan your face up close and then take a scan of your full body, put it together and boom, you have your new Avatar (kind of like what the 3DS does in making Miis). It works pretty well. I had a Batman shirt on and it was scanned it pretty accurately. However, the lighting is a little dim in my living room, so my avatar had much darker skin than I actually have. It was a little weird. So make sure you have really good lighting in your room to get an accurate scan. The other bummer about this is once your done, the scan is gone. It doesn’t become your new Xbox Live avatar. What? I know, lame right. What’s the point? I get to post a few pictures of my scanned avatar online with a backdrop and a short recorded message. Big deal. If I’m going to scan myself to make an avatar, I want it to be my avatar.

Googly Eyes is a fun little gadget that lets you scan in toys and household objects, put giant googly eyes on them and then put on a short little show. I scanned in my lunch box, and it was kind of fun, but the fun is pretty short lived beyond the novelty of seeing different objects with googly eyes bouncing around.

Make A Buddy is similar to Googly Eyes, but instead of putting huge googly eyes on a object you can give an object a “personality” and have it respond to a few basic gestures. Again, fun to play around with for a brief time. My kids thought it was really cool, and kept bringing toy after toy to scan in. One thing we learned is that larger objects, like stuffed animals, scanned in better and looked better than smaller ones like Barbies.

That’s all that’s available for now. The cool picture making program where you can use your fingers to draw a sparkler line all over the place isn’t available just yet, which is kind of lame since the demoed it at Microsoft’s press conference. Other programs are coming as new uses and applications for Kinect are expanded. Fun Labs will be the place to show all of that off, and it’s pretty fun to toy around with for short periods, although a lot of it isn’t quite as cool in practice as it sounds in the description. The low-res camera doesn’t do much to make any scans look too sharp, and lighting is always an issue with Kinect. Maybe an update can help tweak some of that, but as much as Fun Labs shows the potential of Kinect, it also highlights its limitations.

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