The recent E3 (Electronic Entertainment Expo) was the right place for Microsoft to showcase how its Xbox 360 game console is fast evolving into an ecosystem for entertainment. Microsoft has pushed its Kinect functionality into the spotlight once again. It’s voice command capability has been put to multiple use. The E3 2012 show is where games and gaming news are revealed, with an assembly of more than 200 industry representatives attending, with all the media attention and fanfare. The E3 show did get the customers and gamers exited and was aimed at a TV audience.
What Microsoft Xbox was showing is actually the tip of the iceberg of a huge entertainment ecosystem, all synchronised. Its gaming machine is evolving into a multiple functionality enabled entertainment hub. Microsoft is pushing to make Xbox, as not just a gaming machine, but as the all-in-one media centre capable of sharing a variety of media. Topping it off is the music service revealed now, called Xbox Music, which probably is a replacement of sorts to the earlier Microsoft Zune music service. It’s like Spotify with streaming music and allows to know what your friends are listening which also shows integration with cloud services simultaneously.
The Xbox Smartglass app will be now available for Apple products and Android devices, as well as for Microsoft’s own Windows-8 and Win Phone operating systems. This app is designed to convert existing gadgets into companion screens. It’s a convenient way to share videos and gaming content, across a variety of devices. All you have to do is download the app and hook it up to your Xbox Live Account. Just interact thereafter with the Xbox360. It can help you to control entertainment, interactive games and is compatible with movie/TV streaming. It synchronises content and makes the second screen an important experience. In fact you can hook up 4 devices enabled with SmartGlass. In gaming you can have two or more players roped in. The main point is that you can use whatever smart device you presently own, be it a tablet, a playbook, or a smartphone, to sync with the Xbox console that you already own. Pretty cool! For example you can swipe the movie you are watching on your TV onto your tablet… and stroll into another room. Or save it on your mobile device now and continue later on TV, when you are back in the TV room. According to the Nielson Company, people are using video game consoles for purposes other than pure gaming. This Microsoft app seems to be an answer to Apple’s AirPlay and Nintendo’s Wii U with Game Pad (controller with screen). It’s all coming soon this year. Maybe SmartGlass for Xbox 360 puts WiiU on to the back seat, as it has more functionality, with ability to stream content between devices and tap the cloud.
Bing with a new dashboard, is now featured with voice search for games, apps, shows and movies in the Xbox console, ushering a new video product experience with entertainment search. The intent of this system is to understand and aid the Xbox user. The console still is used for lots of offline gaming, yet it has online capability that can be used advantageously and is seen as good value addition. The same Xbox can access Xbox Music to browse your favourite music. You can also watch streaming TV or movies on the same console. To work with SmartGlass, customers need to have Xbox Live Gold membership. Actually the cost is not prohibitive. Using the app, you can, while watching a movie on TV, use your tablet to pull up more content, like, the whole cast of the show. Or when on one Game, use a second screen to show an updated map of the surroundings related to the game. The app can even work with a Karaoke game. Microsoft wants to be device agnostic. Today Microsoft has a leadership position in the Living Room, having sold 67 million consoles of which are 40 million are connected to Xbox Live. Microsoft wants to unify content in the cloud, with Xbox delivering to any device owned by the customer. Windows 8 helps to open up the ecosystem to Android and iOS. And Xbox makes any TV smarter with updates.
The Xbox has now developed, by hooking in other gadgets and devices, an entertainment ecosystem, and is futuristic, integrated to the cloud for games or music. Incentives like the SmartGlass technology and the Nike partnership (Kinect Training) all go to extending the life-cycle of the current generation home console. Enabled with the voice search functionality, Microsoft will give the present generation Xbox 2 more years- lease of life, before the next generation Xbox comes revamped, in a new avatar. Maybe we will be seeing more and more tailor-made games and apps being brought out, dedicated for advanced consoles of different brands, prompted by Xbox. Xbox Group- PR Manager David Dennis feels that Kinect, although unique, may not replace the button-mashing controller, but hybrid experiences will continue to be developed with the Kinect’s tracking and voice-recognition functionalities. It is up to developers, TV producers and Studios to tap the potential of the Xbox SmartGlass technology.
Dinesh VK, a writer by profession finds interest in technical stuff and innovations happening in varied industries. He writes for several sites including http://broadbandsuppliers.co.uk/ and others.