Kinect Fun Labs is a set of interesting toys, tools and gadgets designed to show off what Kinect can do, and while the service started off free, it's now embracing paid add-on content with Kinect Sparkler. While the price is a measly 240 Microsoft Points, however, it's still expensive for the content.
Kinect Sparkler is a doodle pad, essentially. You take two snaps of your living room that Kinect combines into a single photo with depth, and from here you can draw in three dimensions using just your fingers. It sounds simple, and it really is.
Sparkler's most hyped feature is the addition of finger-tracking to the Kinect line-up, but that's not strictly accurate. While you use two commands for controlling the sparks — two fingers up ignites them, a closed fist extinguishes them — you can achieve the same effect with two, three, four or all five fingers raised. It's not really tracking fingers, just checking if your hand is a fist or fingers splayed.
It's not all that accurate either, with sparks sometimes flickering on and off. This wouldn't be as big a problem if you had an eraser tool, but your only option is to wipe all sparkles from the photo: make a small mistake and you have to start all over again.
There's certainly an initial buzz when drawing in 3D, seeing sparkles wrap around objects and moving around your room to check the picture out from different angles. The cursor grows and shrinks to indicate the point in the image where you're drawing, and you can create some interesting effects with some ingenuity and patience.
Once you've made something you're happy with, you can export it to KinectShare where you can view it as a static image or a video. There are Achievements to encourage you to share more often as well as, of course, the joy of showing off what you've created, as you can see in our very own Kinect Sparkler video.
Ultimately, Sparkler is just too limited: there's no choice of colours and no fine erase, which results in most of your pictures looking the same. The finger-tracking isn't at the level many were expecting, and the enjoyment from painting with light is likely to die out before too long for most.
I find it rather dissapointing that they are charging for these small little apps.
I would kinda understand if Avatar Kinect was a paid-for "app" and this be free... But no.
Sucks that Microsoft now wants to charge you for some almost-working tech-demos...
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