CES - Microsoft introduces Avatar Kinect, Windows tablets incoming
January is an excitable time for the year for gadget lovers. It's when Las Vegas holds the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) and it sees all the major manufacturers attempt to outdo one-another in some giant diode-powered pissing content.
Last year, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer underwhelmed the world by attempting to steal Apple's march, announcing a range of Microsoft-powered tablets several weeks before the iPad was unveiled. Twelve months later, those tablets still haven't seen the light of day. This year, Ballmer's keynote concerned itself with the Xbox Kinect first and foremost, and quite right, too - over eight million have sold in less than two months.
It's Microsoft's vision that the Kinect will do away with TV remotes and allow viewers to control their televisions with hand gestures. Ballmer went further though, pushing for the XBox to be the new living room entertainment system and introducing Avatar Kinect; an update to the Kinect's software that allows it to detect more slight movements like facial expressions, rather than the simple-minded arm flapping of a nine-year-old.
Ballmer explained that he sees this refinement creating a new world of social interaction, with avatars meeting one another to engage and interact. It'll cost you; Avatar Kinect will only be available to XBox Live subscribers, but at least that road to virtual sex is now being paved.
Tablets did play a part in Microsoft's offering at CES - Windows 7 will be used to power a new range of tablet PCs from a variety of manufacturers including netbook giants Acer and Asus, and an attempt to reinvent the tablet from Samsung - a touch-screen device with a slide-out keyboard: