One of the most-rumored features of the mythical Apple television set is Siri integration that would allow you to naturally ask questions and issue commands to your TV, but Microsoft may beat Apple to the punch, if a new report from The Verge is accurate. Microsoft already has some voice features built into the current generation Xbox, but the next-gen console will get much-improved abilities including natural language processing powers, the report claims.
New voice-based abilities include the option to wake the new Xbox from sleep mode with an “Xbox on” command, as well as a system that can use Kinect to detect people in the room and offer up multiplayer game suggestions. Users can also query the new Xbox to ask it what their friends are currently playing, tell it to pick up playing a movie where it was last left off and more. The new system will also be much better at vocalizing responses to voice-based user input, according to the report, which should make the overall experience feel much more like an ordinary conversation.
Natural language input for Smart TV platforms is a trend that’s just starting to find its sea legs. The tech was discussed at CES this year by many CE companies including LG as part of their upcoming or shipping platforms, and language processing industry leader Nuance launched its Dragon TV platform last year at CES, to be offered up for integration into OEM hardware and cable/satellite services that want to start building in NLP functionality.
Microsoft is clearly interested in more than just games with the Xbox, and the next generation version of that console will probably take its efforts to be the locus of the living room further still. Building a Siri-like experience into that platform is one way to increase its value proposition over competing, more affordable devices like the Roku and current Apple TV, for users who might not be so interested in the gaming side of the equation.
We’ll see the next Xbox at E3 this year, but also possibly before if Verge’s sources are correct, at an event similar to the one Sony is holding on February 20th in NYC. Both consoles are also expected to make their official commercial debuts later this year, in time for the holiday shopping season.