A pair of reports on Microsoft's next Xbox sheds some light on why the console may require an always-online internet connection: the console is being developed to overlay existing televisions and cable set-top boxes to provide a Microsoft-driven multimedia experience. According to The Verge, the console will accept a cable box signal through HDMI, allowing the new Xbox to add features to your normal TV experience. The Verge report likens the features to the Google TV service built into some televisions. The service will go beyond Google's offering through Microsoft's partnerships with content providers.
The all-new Kinect will also be a part of Microsoft's television focus. The Verge says that the next Kinect can not only detect multiple users simultaneously, but it can also detect eye movement. The example case has the Xbox pausing video content when the Kinect detects the user looking away from the TV screen.
An additional report from Kotaku's internet sleuth Superannuation shows Microsoft's acquisition of developer VideoSurf and the creation of a Video Cognition team within Xbox Live in 2011. The VideoSurf mobile application had users pointing their smartphone cameras at the television to analyze the content and provide additional information and content suggestions. A profile of the Video Cognition team on Microsoft's Careers website could give a hint at the scope of the next Xbox's TV watching experience.
"As we enter the era of Natural User Interface (NUI) with full interaction for TV and computers, our aim is to streamline the way viewers search, consume, and share content, minimizing the time spent searching for programs, while maximizing the viewing and sharing capacities," said the Video Cognition team's senior software development engineer lead Eran Borenstein.
"As the Video Cognition team, we're excited to marry our capabilities with Xbox Live and drive even more innovation and value," said VideoSurf founder and Video Cognition leader Dr. Eitan Sharon.
Both reports point to a Microsoft that's looking to not only control your gaming experience, but your television experience as well.