Microsoft announced Tuesday its next-generation video game console, the Xbox One.
At an event at its US headquarters in Redmond, Washington state, the electronics giant boasted that new device’s voice and gesture controls will allow users to interact with it more naturally.
“Today, we look forward,” said Don Mattrick, Microsoft president of interactive business. “It’s time for technology to step behind the curtain and for you and entertainment to take center stage.”
The Xbox One, described by Don Mattrick, president of the Interactive Entertainment Business for Microsoft, was designed and built “as an all-in-one system to align games, TV and entertainment.”
In terms of hardware, the new console has “5 billion transistors,” 8GB of RAM, a 64-bit architecture, USB 3.0, a Blu-ray player, and “variable power states.”
Microsoft also announced a new Kinect sensor that supports more conversational speech and is more sensitive to gestures, which will be an integral component in the new Xbox experience.
Yusuf Mehdi, SVP of Microsoft’s Interactive Entertainment Business, demonstrated using voice activation to turn on the One, activate programs and return to the home screen.
A feature called Xbox One Guide lets users scroll through a show guide, call for specific TV shows or change channels with voice command.
“No more memorizing channels or hunting for the remote control,” said senior vice president Yusuf Mehdisaid.
The Xbox One comes with an upgraded controller. Microsoft says the new device has 40 new design innovations, including impulse triggers, Wi-Fi direct radio stack, integrated battery compartment and a precision directional pad.
Microsoft also emphasized the new importance of Smart Glass, the app that allows third-party smartphones or tablets to act as remote controls. The company noted that the app will work with the Xbox One natively for a “lag-free and complete experience.”
Microsoft has been planning to port the internet telephony service Skype to its home console since it purchased Skype back in 2011, but it never surfaced on the Xbox 360. Now, the service is poised to make the most of the next generation.
Naturally, Skype can be controlled via voice, with commands to shut off the mic or camera, end calls and go full screen.
Xbox Live is getting an upgrade, as well. To support the new cloud-based features, Xbox Live will run on 300,000 servers for the Xbox One – up from 3,000 servers for Xbox 360, writes CBS News.
As Mashable informs, several impressive looking games were previewed at the Xbox One unveiling. These included new EA Sports titles running on the new EA Ignite engine. These games will “blur the line between reality and games in sports,” EA exec Andrew Wilson said.
The presentation also included news about an updated Call of Duty title, which will take advantage of the Xbox One’s new graphical capabilities. Additionally, Microsoft announced that it has teamed up with Steven Spielberg to produce a live-action Halo TV series.
The company was criticized, however, for saying only that it would launch the Xbox One “later this year”, and for not yet announcing a price.
The black console, with a new Kinect camera sensor and game pad, is the successor to the hugely successful Xbox 360 which sold a reported 77 million consoles around the world, says the Telegraph.