Over the weekend a strange document leaked from Microsoft that quickly spread into numerous cloud storage venues outlining a long-term plan for the Xbox 720. The video game console giant was extremely slow to move to do anything about the leak and also languorously began to send out copyright notices to various settings to have the document removed. The 56-page document is currently become a center point of a certain amount of speculation about the future of the Xbox; but now people are wondering if it was an intentional leak or not.
The document at first looked interesting. Tom Warren at The Verge dissected some of what appeared in the leak, including a $299 future console, Kinect 2, and potentially even Kinect Glasses.
As the week wore on, news began to trickle down that cloud-storage outlets were being told by Microsoft to remove the document. Reports come from The Verge as well as a Czech tech site, and even the cloud-hosting service Dropbox. “Ihned.cz, a technology site based in Czech Republic, received a notice over the weekend from Alan Radford, Internet Investigator on behalf of Microsoft.”
Xbox 720 Rumors Revisited
Aside from the potential console only costing $299, there’s quite a few other rumors to pick out of this document:
Microsoft outlines a competitive differentiation for its next-generation Xbox, including support for Blu-ray, native 3D output and glasses, concurrent apps, and additional sensor and peripheral support. Alongside a promised 6x performance increase, there’s also mention of true 1080p output with full 3D support and an “always on” state for the console. A slide on core hardware indicates that the next Xbox will be designed to be scalable in the number of CPU cores and their frequencies. Microsoft appears to have been debating whether to use six or eight ARM or x86 cores clocked at 2GHz each with 4GB of DDR4 memory alongside three PPC cores clocked at 3.2GHz each for backwards compatibility with existing Xbox 360 titles.
Other than these little bits of dissection brought from The Verge, the document seemed pretty lax in overall technical specifications.
And Microsoft’s reply to press outfits about the document and why they’re sending out copyright notices to take it down have been met with vague nonsense. Instead of not commenting on the subject, Microsoft has turned this into a marketing ploy to talk about the Xbox 360.
Microsoft Kinect Glasses?
What really caught our eye at SiliconANGLE, however, is this the Kinect Glasses—no doubt a type of augmented reality device designed to take some of the steam out of Google Glasses, but probably gaming-entertainment oriented. We’ve been burned by Xbox rumors before so this will certainly be taken with a grain of salt; such as expecting that the E3 “tablet-based technology” Surface or SmartGlass might be Xbox related (okay nobody thought that was really a possibility) and leaks about what video card might slot into the Xbox 720.
Microsoft lays out a roadmap for its “Fortaleza” Kinect Glasses — which appears to be a research project the company is working on. There’s little mention of the hardware involved, but the glasses appear to be Wi-Fi- or 4G-enabled and incorporate augmented reality in a way that’s similar to Google’s Project Glass augmented reality glasses. Described as a “breakthrough heads up and hands-free device,” Kinect Glasses is marked as a 2014 product that won’t launch alongside the Xbox 720 console. Microsoft doesn’t provide any specifics about how the glasses will work on the Xbox, but they do appear to be designed to be mobile for use away from the console.
Microsoft has a huge potential technology here and after watching them nearly bungle the Kinect, the concept of Kinect Glasses could be an eye watering experience.
The Google Glasses project could bring us the advent of augmented eyewear, the horizon of a second-layer of metadata while interacting without a screen. That in-of-itself will be a brilliant addition to the user interfaces we already have—however, I’ve mentioned before that the next step to bring this sort of UI to life will be gesture detection and recognition.
Kinect technology to the rescue?
A pair of tiny cameras set on the sides of augmented reality glasses would be able to give stereoscopic “vision” to a controller chip that could “see” your hands while you’re using the glasses. As a result Microsoft wouldn’t need a surface or a screen to project a Minority Report-like interface onto, it would display inside the glasses, and because the Kinect-technology would be able to judge the depth and position of your hands you could interact with the augmented reality without a second interface.
This is exactly what comes to mind when a report mentions a “breakthrough heads up and hands-free device.”
The only problem is that right now it’s a huge tease.