It’s here! Xbox Kinect is now available in the US – and soon, around the world. At Windows Live, we’re very excited about this because it gives our more than 300 million Messenger users worldwide a new way to stay connected with their Messenger friends. At launch, Xbox LIVE Gold members will be able to video chat with friends from their TVs using the new Video Kinect feature. And not only can you video chat from Xbox to Xbox, you can also video chat with your Messenger friends and family from your TV set to their PC or Mac with a webcam.
According to IDC, 90% of laptops shipping in 2010 have embedded webcams. On Messenger alone, we serve over 420 million video chats monthly, with the average video chat session lasting over 12 minutes, and nearly 10% of these longer than an hour. Our customer feedback shows that the #1 reason people buy webcams and video chat is to connect with friends and family. With the already wide availability of webcams, and now with Video Kinect on Xbox LIVE, simple video calling from your living room will soon become even more commonplace.
Kinect’s new smart cameras do a lot more than an ordinary computer webcam, automatically panning, zooming, and physically tilting up and down to follow you around the room while you chat. And if another person walks into the viewing area, the camera automatically reframes the shot to fit everyone in.
Video chatting from your PC or Mac with someone who’s using Video Kinect on Xbox LIVE gives you the same full-screen experience as when you chat with someone on a PC. Microsoft webcams such as the new LifeCam Studio work seamlessly with Messenger including features like Call Button that make easy for you to start a video call with your Messenger contacts and Xbox friends. And of course, whether you’re on an Xbox, a PC, or a Mac, you can also send text IMs while you video chat.
We’ve been having a lot of fun testing this internally (my job does have some nice perks)! But to give you a better idea of what it’s like to use Video Kinect on Xbox LIVE and Windows Live Messenger, we put together this video of a Kinect-to-PC video chat in action.
You can read more about how Windows Live Messenger and Kinect work together here.
Piero Sierra Group Program Manager, Windows Live
Great, but I think it would be better if it supported Xbox Live Silver as well. What would be even better is just having one online service, simply called 'Xbox Live' that has all the features of Silver and most of Gold (including multi-player online play, and Messenger support). For people who want more features can pay a small price for 'Xbox Live Plus'. People who pay could get early access to demos and reviews etc. Having a great free service will really put Xbox ahead of PlayStation and Wii.
Making this Xbox Live Gold only and excluding Xbox Live Free users seems shortsighted. I would've thought that MS wants to make Messenger video chat ubiquitous, especially as it's free elsewhere. Kinect will open up Xbox to a much larger audience, but I think restrictions like these will turn people off. The same goes for watching Netflix, as casual gamers will have a hard time justifying the $60 annual cost in these economic times - maybe another pricing tier without multiplayer gaming would work better.
Does Video Kinect support multi video chat? If not, when is that update avail?
@JohnCz - No, Kinect does not set online/away status this way (after all, you might be online but sitting down?) Still, interesting idea!
I think it's worth mentioning that the Kinect Video Chat functionality can also be used if you just have the original Xbox 360 webcam. As this camera does not have a built-in microphone, you will need to plug in a headset to talk to the other person. So even without having the Kinect device, you still can videochat with all your Windows Live Messenger contacts!
With Kinect and XBox Live Family Pack, is it possible for Kinect to determine who is sitting down at the TV and in turn change their online/away status?