An Xbox Live promotion is circulating the tech realm today, giving a glimpse into the next project to come out of Microsoft surrounding its aging Xbox product line. Most recently, these efforts appear to be a voice-activated and motion-controlled set top box, featuring YouTube, HBO Go, Hulu Plus, Verizon FiOs, and more third-party entertainment services. While it’s unclear exactly what this marketing material is precluding, it would appear that Xbox users are about to enjoy many of the features of the Roku player coupled with voice recognition and motion control made possible through the Kinect.
The spot, which includes a family controlling its Xbox’s media playback by way of motion, voice, and smart phones, gives a glimpse of a new feature that intends to redefine how Xbox owners interact with their television.
Microsoft has released a small blurb on its YouTube channel about the upcoming feature:
Get live TV programming and on-demand HD shows from television providers like Comcast and Verizon. And with Kinect, use your voice to pause and rewind movies and TV shows, or change channels. Plus, easily discover entertainment options that interest you. Just say what you want to watch and Xbox finds it with voice search powered by Bing.
A glance at the fine print at the bottom of its promotional page indicates that an Xbox Gold membership is required to make this upcoming service work, which could be the only purchase required. In addition, users will need their own Netflix, Hulu Plus, HBO Go, and other subscriptions to really make the service work. Perhaps Microsoft is turning the Xbox into a subscription-based Roku player? Obviously, a Kinect will need to be plugged in and turned on to make the voice and motion controls work.
Still, some of the features are remarkably promising. Voice-activated commands would allow the user to open and play any application they choose without having to lift a remote. A swipe of the hand would allow the user to navigate through various menus, also one of the more prominent benefits of the Kinect device. In one scene of the promotional video, a user is able to initiate a Bing search without touching a single piece of hardware.
So, is this enough to encourage more Xbox users to subscribe to Xbox gold? Will it help encourage hold-outs who still haven’t embraced console gaming to take the leap and pick up their first Xbox?