This week, Microsoft unveiled a rather exciting new development, Xbox Smart Glass, which is aimed at bridging the divide between tablet devices and one’s Xbox 360.
While the hopes of seeing an Xbox Portable were laid to rest a long time ago, Xbox Smart Glass appears to show how the company is intending to marry Xbox functionality more fully with mobile devices, while it has been dubbed
as the answer to Apple’s AirPlay.
At the Microsoft press presentation at the Electronic Entertainment Expo
(E3) currently underway in Los Angeles, Mark Whitten, the corporate vice president for Xbox Live, explained that Smart Glass allows users to begin watching content on their Windows 8, Android or iOS tablet and then seamless pick up where they left off on their TV, using their Xbox as an intermediary device.
Tablet, meet TV
Whitten pointed out that while one’s phone or tablet are always within reach when playing games or watching TV, the problem is they don’t work together. However, the company intends to change this, by enabling one’s tablet to recognise the content being played and provide additional information.
“Xbox Smart Glass takes devices you already own and love and makes movies more immersive, TV more engaging and games more thrilling,” he enthused.
Whitten posed a scenario, in which he began watching a movie on his tablet on a plane ride, and then, with a tap, sent it to his Xbox 360 and picked up where he left off on his TV screen upon his return home. Additionally, Smart Glass would instantly transform the tablet view to provide information on the show’s cast, crew and characters.
In another example, Whitten showed how Smart Glass would “sense” when he was watching Game of Thrones on his TV, while his phone and tablet would keep up with events as they happened on the TV, with the tablet providing a map that showed where the characters where in the show.
“With Smart Glass we are opening new doors for producers, artists and creators to develop far more than single screen entertainment,” he enthused.
Whitten also showcased how the technology could be used in games, with Madden 13 taking advantage of a tablet addition to its screen options to sketch out play tactics and direct onscreen avatars using the tablet.
To the point
Since the launch of the Xbox 360, the unanswered question has always been when and whether Microsoft will address the portable gaming environment. Nintendo had their Wii, with its DS, Sony had its PlayStation with its PSP or more recently its Vita, whereas Microsoft’s Xbox 360 largely operated in isolation and seemed conspicuous for its absence of a portable Xbox.
Smart Glass also takes a direct stab at the Nintendo’s forthcoming GamePad controller
for its imminent Wii U, which incorporates a touchscreen display and similarly aims to act as a second screen for games being played via the Wii U.
However, in Smart Glass’s favour, we particularly like the fact that the technology is cross platform friendly, as it doesn’t force anyone to rush out and buy a Windows 8 tablet when they are released later this year to take advantage of the forthcoming technology. Smart move, Microsoft.