A slide from Microsoft's E3 Conference showing...
Via Microsoft’s E3 Conference showing a diagram of the technologies in Kinect (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Xbox and Xbox Live is releasing an update this spring that will enhance the Kinect experience. The focus of this update will be social interaction and entertainment. You will be able to invite and collaborate with up to 7 friends in more than a dozen virtual environments. Simply host a discussion or perform on stage and put on a show, it’s up to you. You’ll even be able to see friends’ facial expressions in real time through their avatars.

Be the center of attention and the star of the show! Avatar Kinect lets you create amazing videos quickly and easily. Whether you’ve hosted a discussion with friends on the talk show set, or tried out your comedy routine on the performance stage, record your session with a producer’s editorial eye, following your performance, zooming and panning, just like a real TV production! Share your video recording with friends by posting it to the Kinect Share website, and post it to your favorite social networking site where all your friends can check it out.

I pre-ordered the Kinect and received it on its release date. I don’t normally do that with consumer products but I believed in what the technology could bring and wanted to be an early adopter. This update comes as no surprise to me and maybe many others as leveraging social media, sharing, and collaboration, are at the forefront of where the web and the many of our applications are going. This update really got me thinking though. If we can craft, we can practice, we can perform, and we can gain. I joined Toastmasters International this past fall as I’d like to become a more confident speaker and improve my overall speaking ability whether it be in small groups or at major events. As soon as I read of the upcoming Kinect and Xbox enhancement, I immediately thought of Toastmasters.

You’ll now be able to host, most likely private, as well as public social sessions using Kinect. Record them and share them as you see fit. Think of the possibilities! Not only in how your presentation skills could be improved but the enhancement of collaboration by way of the communication channel you’re using. I understand that it’s a virtual audience and not a real audience in your living room, or possibly no audience at all, but if you can keep your focus, hit key points, stay on topic, and routinely cover each speech or assignment you’re aiming for, this technology will surly help you. In no way will it replace the actual live, stage-like performance, but it may enable you to walk up to that podium, strut your stuff, and deliver the level of quality your audience expects. I’ve always known that video taping yourself was a great way to learn from and improve your own speeches or presentations, but Kinect is going take that further, making it fun, easy, and sharable! Send off your recorded speech to Facebook and ask your pals to grade you. Maybe email it to a group, whatever you like. I hope that someday in the near future, at some tech related event, a host utilizes the Kinect to have fun with the audience and deliver a killer speech or intro. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if some users begin setting up their own shows online utilizing this technology. If you are a Toastmaster, or even if you’re not, and you do own an Xbox 360, you should really consider looking into the Kinect for both fun and education. I can’t wait for the Xbox spring 2011 update, I’d I guarantee you, I’ll be practicing speeches in front of the camera.