Microsoft shows off ‘game-changing’ Xbox One
All-in-one entertainment strategy drives console wars reboot
Microsoft Corp unveiled its new Xbox One console yesterday, technology that is promised to merge gaming, TV and Web, as well as respond to voice and gesture control and monitor users' heart rate, according to online reports.
"It changes everything," Xbox executive Marc Whitten told journalists at the company's Redmond, Washington campus. "This is rocket-science stuff."
Microsoft has chosen to deliver an all-in-one entertainment system that will bridge the gap between gaming, video-on-demand and social media.
Microsoft announced a deal with the US NFL to combine match coverage with interactive gaming elements such as a Fantasy Football app, which will allow viewers to create and manage fantasy sides while watching the real-world event.
In addition, Steven Spielberg is set to produce a TV series based on popular Halo franchise, games that are exclusive to the Xbox platform, indicating a shift from console maker to content generator for Microsoft's Xbox division.
Analysts responded positively to the move from games centre to an entertainment offering that could appeal to the whole family.
"The Xbox One really looks to advance the state of video game technology and entertainment in a way that we haven't seen before," said Brian Blau of Gartner.
"The Xbox One is a real advancement, one that will transform the way we experience TV, games, music, movies and more. From what we can see so far Microsoft has met and far exceeded expectations for the Xbox One. This is Microsoft branching out into the living room to reach more of a family audience rather than a core gaming audience."
"The Xbox One is set to mark the beginning of a new generation of games, TV and entertainment," said Fred Huet, managing partner at Greenwich Consulting.
The Xbox One, is set for a late Q4 release. The platform will have 300,000 servers to draw from, more than the entire computing power available worldwide in 1999, according to Whitten.
The Kinect system will still be in place, but Microsoft said an improved, ultra-sensitive sensor would track wrist and shoulder rotations and be able to read users' heartbeats. The unit's main camera will record 1080P RGB video at 30 frames per second.
The Guardian reported that Microsoft executive Yusuf Mehdi used a range of voice commands and used "minimal hand gestures to manipulate content" on the Xbox One. Mehdi said "a new set of universal gestures to control your TV" would make tactile input a thing of the past.
The Xbox One packs 8GB of Ram, a Blu-ray drive, 64-bit architecture and a 500GB onboard hard drive. But unlike rival Sony's PlayStation 4, little is known about the debut games catalogue for the Xbox One. However Microsoft promised more titles would be announced at next month's E3 gamers' conference in Los Angeles.