The siege of your lounge
Microsoft’s plan to own your lounge has kicked into high-gear with the announcement of the highly anticipated Xbox One…
Your lounge is a battlefield between, among ot hers, Microsoft and Sony. Both companies have Trojan horses, in the form of gaming consoles, waiting to attack your home entertainment system with every possible form of content. Two months a go, Sony unveiled the PS4 system that it will launch by the end of the year, and last week Microsoft answered with t he Xbox One. The latter has television in its sights and the ability to control your viewing of traditional broadcasts from the Xbox platform.
This is easier said than done, and we’ve seen similar attempts before from Microsoft with its Windows Media Centre software that has a niche following from home-theatre enthusiasts. The idea is that Microsoft will interface with set-top boxes – like your DStv decoder – via infrared or other means and control changing channels and presenting the broadcast schedule.
This allows Microsoft to do some cool things. For example, it can allow you to chat with someone on Skype while watching TV or playing games – a feature that will be included with the Xbox One. It also means Microsoft can serve you additional content, including ads, overlaying normal television broadcasts. More importantly, it shifts the primary relationship with the viewer away from the pay television operators of the world and into the hands of Microsoft.
Microsoft has also upgraded the Kinect sensor for the Xbox One that has a built-in high-definition camera and tracks movement for motioncontrolled gaming and to navigate the Xbox interface. The Xbox One can also be voice-controlled. You can turn it on by saying “Xbox on” to launch a personalised version of the interface, based on the person who’s speaking. Essentially, the Xbox One will know who is in the room and will configure itself accordingly with that person’s friends, favourite games and television shows.
What Microsoft didn’t announce was the rumoured “IllumiRoom” technology, which was featured in a YouTube video last month. This essentially projects additional video and gaming con- tent into the room around your console creating a sort of peripheral vision for viewers and essentially transforming the room you’re in into the game or video world. We might see more of this at the Electronic Entertainment Expo in LA in June where Microsoft has promised it will spend more time talking about the new console. Or it might come later. Or never.
When Microsoft launched the original Xbox console, Bill Gates said the company would do whatever it takes to win the market. It took many years to achieve, but now the strategy for total lounge takeover is coming together nicely.