Kinect Fun Labs appeared on the Xbox Live dashboard with uncharacteristic stealth back in June. It was hardly a secret, but given that it essentially offered free software for the world's fastest selling consumer electronic gadget, it was a muted debut. A straw poll of Kinect-owning normal people in my social circle reveals that none of them were actually aware that Fun Labs even exists.
Perhaps that's deliberate. The plugins released so far are less finished software and more experimental ideas. Rather than a shop window, Fun Labs seems to be where Microsoft plays around with what its camera can do, tests new functionality and occasionally shows off a little of what they've got in store, tech-wise.
But even if that's the case, it remains a curious beast. Of the six Kinect gadgets available to date (five free, one paid for) there are glimpses of what could be useful and interesting development work, but also a lot of rough edges and a lingering sense that the EyeToy could probably do a similar job. As a showcase, it's severely lacking in show.
As rumoured earlier this week, Microsoft has shown off Avatar Kinect, a new party chat feature heading to the Xbox 360 dashboard.
A brief trailer shown during Microsoft's presentation at the CES event in Las Vegas showed how you'll be able to get your Kinect-enabled chums' avatars together in one of 15 different virtual settings and then chew the proverbial fat.
The peripheral will then do its best to map your movements – including facial expressions - onto your avatar. Not only that, but you'll be able to record your discussions and share them on Facebook, should you see fit.