Microsoft Phones, tablets as gaming controllers that detect gritting teeth, blinking?

Microsoft patents seem to indicate that Xbox gaming may eventually use future Windows smartphones and tablets as controllers that have new sensors to detect micro facial expressions like gritting teeth, opening or closing mouth, and blinking.

After Microsoft was cleared of infringing upon Google patents with the Xbox, the company announced "enhanced transparency" by launching a Microsoft patent tracker. Shortly thereafter, news circulated that Microsoft may be developing "smart eyewear" along the lines of Google Glass, but for use with the upcoming Xbox "720" also dubbed "Durango." Then Paul Thurrott spilled the beans about Xbox 720 on the podcast What The Tech, saying the new console will be very expensive when it goes on sale in November for about $500, or $300 for a subscription model.

Thurrott also believes Xbox will be "always online," something that Microsoft Studios creative director Adam Orth tweeted about and raised a privacy ruckus before changing his Twitter account to "protected." Orth said, "Sorry, I don't get the drama around having 'always on' console. Every device now is 'always on.' That's the world we live in. #dealwithit." Microsoft had to step up to the PR disaster and apologize for the "inappropriate" comments. Just the same, it seems as if the persistent Internet connection for Microsoft's next Xbox may indeed be accurate.

The Verge reported that "Microsoft will introduce a feature that lets its next-generation console take over a TV and set-top box in a similar way to Google TV." Also according to the report, "The next Kinect will detect multiple people simultaneously, including the ability to detect eye movement to pause content when a viewer turns their head away from a TV. Microsoft is said to be using these capabilities as part of its UI and features for its TV plans."

Hand and eye movement, as well as "always online" may not be all. New Microsoft patents indicate that future Windows mobile devices may work as gaming controllers that would be capable of detecting micro gestures in facial expressions like gritting teeth.

According to Patent Bolt, Microsoft has "their eye on a future 3D Glasses-Free User Interface for a possible full range of devices including smartphones, a next generation Xbox controller and smart TVs." Regarding the omni-spatial gesture input, Patent Bolt reports, "One of Microsoft's latest inventions relate to systems, methods, and computer storage media (including holographic media) for detecting user gestures in a space surrounding a device. In particular, aspects may include detecting a user gesture in front of a handheld device with a first sensor and also detecting a user gesture in the back of the handheld device with a second sensor."

This may include using "non-contact sensors (e.g., depth camera, visible light camera, IR camera, capacitive, ultrasonic, and the like), contact sensors, and/or device pose/orientation sensors (e.g., accelerometers, magnetometers, gyros, GPS, electro-magnetic sensors, and the like) in any combination to identify an orientation, gesture, and/or intent of the device and/or a user."

Then Patent Bolt dug up another new Microsoft patent that seems to indicate that the Redmond giant may be working toward using next-generation Windows mobile devices as virtual Xbox gaming controllers. The patent covers a game controller for Surface tablets and Windows Phones as well as an "all-new component that is for their multitouch device gaming controller called the 'interaction analysis component.'" 

This means the future of Xbox gaming and the interaction component could respond to a plethora of user gestures, including micro gestures in facial expressions. "The gesture can be the movement of the user's head (e.g., up, down, left, or right. etc.), a facial gesture (e.g., micro gesture such as gritting teeth, blinking, opening or closing a mouth, etc.), a hand gesture, or the like."


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