R.I.P. Remote Control?

June 13, 2012

ImageWhen Microsoft unveiled its revamped Dashboard interface for the Xbox 360 late last year, it posed an intriguing question: Are we soon to see the death of the living room remote control?

By further integrating the voice and gesture recognition systems of the Xbox 360 Kinect system, Microsoft took the first tentative steps toward eliminating the remote control entirely. The Kinect system, which uses a camera and microphone to track user motion and sound, had already been leveraged heavily for game titles. But by splicing it with the central Xbox user interface, Kinect could go a step further. A universal remote control … without the remote control.

Console systems aren’t just for games anymore. Along with its competitors, the Nintendo Wii and the PlayStation 3, the Xbox 360 has been trying to leverage its Internet connectivity features and shed its reputation as just a video game platform. It would much rather you think of it as a central hub for all your home entertainment needs — TV, DVD, on-demand movies, streaming music, chat and social media. And yes, on occasion, video games.

The intent is clear. By putting all your home entertainment options into one place, and providing a controller-less interface, the Xbox hopes to change the living room dynamic in a fundamental way.

But does it work? And maybe more importantly — do you really want your TV looking and listening back at you?

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