Avatar Kinect available now, Kinect Sparkler this week

If you have a Kinect and want a few free Achievements, you'll be pleased to know that Avatar Kinect is now available. You can find it under the Kinect Fun Labs heading in the Xbox Live Marketplace, and it's a free download. It comes complete with 50 points worth of Achievements, for activities like chatting with a buddy or posting "soliloquies." Never thought you'd hear that word outside of AP English, did you? focalbox The app is essentially fancy chat program, which uses your facial movements to animate your Avatar while you chat online with up to 7 friends in different 24 virtual settings -- like the Talk Show stage, Performance stage, and Sports Party stage. You can also capture and edit video of the meetings and upload it to Kinect Share, a dedicated video site that also boasts Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube functionality. Avatar Kinect is free for Gold members, but Microsoft is making it temporarily free for Free (previously Silver) members until September 8 as well. On September 8, Microsoft is kicking off an Avatar Kinect contest with an online comedy festival featuring actual stand-up comedians performing through Avatar Kinect. You can then vote for your favorite for a chance to win a 360 and Kinect bundle.

Kinect Sparkler

Microsoft also announced that Kinect Sparkler, another Fun Labs tech demo shown at E3, will be launching on Thursday, July 28, for $3 (240 MSP). It lets you paint light with your fingertips, which finally shows off the potential for finger-tracking using the device. It will also bring sharing features through the Kinect Share site.