Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Xbox Gets Voice Control, Search, and More

Congrats to the Xbox org and the Xbox Live services teams at Microsoft! Today, we publicly released the latest updates to the console and the backend services supporting it. With the update comes a plethora of cool technologies like voice control, search, and more.

Xbox is in a great position to lead a revolution in the way we consume and interact with media. I believe this revolution is already in progress and it's not a unique opinion (see here). However, it is possible that I've just drinken the Xbox Kool-aid. Whatever the case, I'm excited about the future of interactive media and computing in the living room.

Television has offered the same consumption model for decades now. In about the last 10 years we have seen some movement from the likes of TiVo, Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, and others moving us in a new direction, yet I still see most people tuning into their favorite shows at the network-mandated day and time. What's worse is that we just pull the media in a passive manner. There's limited interaction whether with peers, other audience members, or the collective community. Why can't you chat with other viewers during the show? Actually, you can, but not in a seamless, appealing way. You can vote on shows like American Idol, but you have to send a text message from your phone. Why isn't this more fluid? We should be able to say the name of our favorite contestant a la Kinect to cast our vote at the end of the show.

I think Xbox and Microsoft are in a great position to change this. Amazing technologies have been released over the past couple of years and there are many more to come. Xbox is in tens of millions of living rooms with a large portion of those people subscribed to Xbox Live. Live provides access to some powerful services including a marketplace where developers can submit apps for consumers to download. There are cutting edge input mechanisms such as Kinect's skeletal tracking and voice recognition. The possibilities for innovation are boundless and startups are already working on creative ideas. In fact, Microsoft and TechStars are joining forces to co-sponsor a Kinect-based startup accelerator program.

With the stage set like this, I think it's safe to say that we have a very exciting year ahead!