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Microsoft Unveils 3rd Generation Xbox One: Another Step Towards Videoconferencing in Every Living Room
Today Microsoft unveiled their 3rd generation video game console named Xbox One. The long awaited successor to the massively successful Xbox 360 comes with incredibly high expectations, and it is already available to pre-order.
The Xbox is basically just a PC running Windows. The major difference between the Xbox and the PC in your office is that the configuration of the Xbox is locked down. This makes things easier for game designers, as they can optimize their code specifically for the Xbox, and be sure that it will run perfectly for every single Xbox owner. Compare this to PC games, which have to run on a variety of PC setups and configurations, and can not be optimized for any particular piece of PC hardware.
Due to the power of today's hardware, and the flexibility of today's software, dedicated appliances make less and less sense. The biggest examples of this are our multi-purpose smart phones and tablets, which have replaced countless dedicated devices (see image below - source).
The Xbox One is powered by an 8 core CPU with 8GB of RAM and has a 500GB hard drive. Clearly, a Windows based machine with those specs can do a lot more than just run games. A device with that much power, and a direct connection to both the internet and your primary living room big screen TV, could potentially be the hub of all home entertainment. This appears to be Microsoft's plan, as the presentation during the big reveal appeard to be more focused on TV integration than gaming. While controlling your TV with voice and hand gestures (recognized by the Kinect) is very cool, there has been a little backlash from the gaming community, as evidenced by the semi-viral video (below) with a somewhat unflattering edit of the reveal.
One major new feature that we are particularly excited about, is the bundled Kinect sensor and Skype integration. This may open up a number of possibilities for application developers, allowing for new and perhaps unexpected uses for home consoles. Please see our previous coverage of the WiiU's videoconferencing capabilies (powered by Vidyo).
In addition to gaming with Skype (as shown above - source), there could be countless uses for this combination of technologies, such as personal training, expert counseling, and even just basic videoconferencing meetings.
Living room videoconferencing has proven to be a very difficult puzzle to solve, with many solutions just failing to achieve adoption. However, the 1080p capable Kinect can easily support high quality videoconferencing sessions, and the success of the xBox as a platform will guarantee its availability in many living rooms. Perhaps VC will an unexpected hit for the Xbox, much like Google Hangouts have been a pleasant success for the Google+ platform.
With Sony's new Playstation reveal right around the corner (June 10th 2013), all eyes are on the gaming community and Microsoft has boldly set a high bar.
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