Gamescom 2011: Air Band Hands-On Preview

A peek at Kinect Fun Labs' Air Band: an air guitar, air keyboard, and air drumkit app based on gesture recognition.

Air Band is next in line for release on Kinect Fun Labs. Like other Fun Labs apps, it's a playful tech demo rather than a game--and, like other Fun Lab apps, it's based on a single neat idea that, we'd hope, maybe paves the way for its inclusion in a full-blown Xbox 360 game. In it, you pick a musical genre (rock, country, and so on) and then jam in front of the Kinect camera, alone or with a second player, miming your performance on an air guitar, air keyboard, or air drums.

As you play, Air Band conjures a neon guitar, keyboard, or drumkit in or beneath your hands as they appear in your onscreen reflection. The air guitar is the most impressive, tilting according to how you move your hands and pointing into or away from the screen according to how you angle yourself at the camera. The drumkit comes complete with neon drumsticks, placed in your hands by Kinect detection.

To switch between instruments during a session, you drop your hands to your sides and then move to a new position. Air Band is reasonably quick to pick up on your air drumming or strumming or keyboarding, discerning between the three mimes without problem. The game (Fun Labs app, we should say) can also capture videos or images of your jam session for publishing over Kinect's sharing site or social networks.

Air Band is out for 240 Microsoft points from Monday August 22.

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