In a world where nothing is really new, we can’t help but feel we’ve seen Microsoft’s latest innovation somewhere before – but it’s not where we’d anticipated it. Pre-E3 buzz had the company pegged as introducing a functionality similar to Apple’s AirPlay – where smartphone/tablet content could be pushed onto the big screen in your living room.
Turns out, we should have been looking at Nintendo rather than Apple, for inspiration. The new Xbox Smart Glass functionality – at first glance – seems to potentially “out-Wii U the Wii U”. Rather than simply an additional, cloned screen, Smart Glass provides a secondary (/tertiary!) monitor, which brings a whole new level of content to the experience. And – unlike the Wii U – this uses hardware and gadgets you already own: An Xbox, a smartphone (Microsoft are savvy enough to have opened this one up to iPhones and Android devices), and an interest in seeing more about what you’re already watching.
With a demonstration featuring Game of Thrones (and neatly avoiding spoilers), Smart Glass ties in information between tvs, movies, music, games… Game of Thrones on the tv, IMDB-style episode / actor / character information on the smartphone, while a tablet is displaying a map of Westeros, pointing out where Jon Snow is in comparison to Daenerys.
There’s the same sort of functionality brought to music and games, according to Microsoft – the publisher reporting that multiple developers have already expressed interest in working with the new technology. Expect to play Halo 4 on multiple screens, with lore and additional information unlocked on your smartphone as you encounter new areas and features on your console.
With today’s information still relatively sparse, but Microsoft obviously pleased with this latest development, expect plenty more over the coming weeks and months – Smart Glass is due to hit worldwide any time between September and the end of the year.