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Kinect will read lips, join with Sony TVs?


According to the (very busy) rumor mill, the next version of the Kinect controller will be able to read and interpret even the smallest of your body's movements.

It seems that in recent days, some folks who claim to know a little something about the future of Kinect have had a lot to say about what’s in store for the device that reads the movements of your body and the sound of your voice.

For starters, according to unnamed sources who spoke to Eurogamer, the next generation of Kinect will be able to read the movement of your body (specifically your mouth) with such precision that it'll be able to lip-read.

Not only will Microsoft's device be able to understand the flapping of your lips, the source says Kinect 2 will be so powerful that I'll be able to detect your emotional state by tracking the pitch and volume of your voice as well as your facial characteristics.

Eurogamer's source says the next Kinect will come bundled with the next Xbox — which the rumor mill most recently pegged at launching in 2012.

While a recent report from the Digital Foundry/Gamesindustry.biz found the likelihood of a 2012 new Xbox launch unlikely, its own sources confirmed a new Kinect was in the works and would be "a significant upgrade" from the current device. Their sources also suggest there is "a very strong likelihood" that Kinect would come bundled with the next Xbox machine ... or rather, machines.

The Gamesindustry's sources suggest that Microsoft will launch two significantly different new Xbox models — a cheaper, pared-down machine "positioned more along the lines of a set-top box ... and perhaps as a Kinect-themed gaming portal," as well as a more expensive "fully-featured machine with optical drive, hard disk and backward compatibility aimed at the hardcore."

As if that wasn't enough rumor grist to chew on, in other Kinect-related scuttlebutt, The Daily says it has spoken to "sources familiar with the subject" who tell them that Microsoft is planning to integrate Kinect into the next generation of TV sets.

According to their sources, Microsoft is in the early stages of licensing Kinect technology to television hardware manufacturers like Vizio and Sony. Yes, Sony. As in the Microsoft rival responsible for the PlayStation 3 game machine. (Msnbc.com is a joint venture of Microsoft and NBCUniversal.)

The sources say that Kinect-enabled TVs would likely network with PCs running the next version of Windows so that viewers could control their TV programming with gestures (much like Kinect already allows Xbox 360 owners to do with their Netflix and Zune programming.)

But really. Sony? In some ways this rumor seems a bit ... off. Yes, Sony is a giant, sprawling entity and Sony Electronics is separate from the gaming-related Sony Computer Entertainment. But it wasn't that long ago that the rumor mill claimed Sony was working on its own Kinect-like controller — which makes far more sense.

But there is a lot that rings true about this Kinect/TV rumor. For starters, Microsoft clearly wants to see Kinect technology spread far and wide and well beyond Xbox gaming (note their soon-to-launch Kinect for Windows program). And integrating Kinect with TV sets would certainly help better position Microsoft to spar with Google TV and the rumored plans for Apple TV.

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Winda Benedetti writes about games for msnbc.com. You can follow her tweets about games and other things here on Twitter or join her in the stream here on Google+.  And be sure to check out the In-Game Facebook page here.