Working in media, if there’s one thing I love, it’s creative advertising. If there’s another thing I love, it’s data. Microsoft may be scratching both of my itches by the end of the year with their next generation video game console – Xbox One. The system is being touted by Microsoft as the “All-in-one entertainment console,” even allowing users to watch TV without ever picking up a remote.
A state of the art camera is being supplied with every new console, of which its primary purpose is to totally revolutionize the way gamers interact with their system and immerse themselves in gameplay – or is it? A patent filed by Microsoft back in 2011 for the technology implies that it plans to also use the technology in another very interesting way in the future.
You know when your favorite show cuts to a commercial break and you get up to go to the bathroom, reheat your dinner, chat with your friends or let the dog out? Well, Microsoft wants to change that by teaming up with advertisers and using its system camera to monitor users during TV shows and commercial breaks. Xbox One can observe eyeball movement and even monitor your heart rate. Microsoft plans to offer achievements and/or special offers to users who stick around for the commercials. Users will likely be able to say things like, “Xbox, order Pizza Hut!” or “Xbox, tell me more about that” when the appropriate advertisements are on the screen. Some advertisers may even be able to go as far as making a game out of their ads, allowing users to call out details or products in the ad to unlock discounts or special offers.
As scary as it is to think that we have a Skynet-esque force possibly entering our living rooms, we all knew this technology was coming and I think that the possibilities of utilizing it are exciting. Imagine asking, “Xbox, what is Sheldon Cooper drinking?” as a hub pops up on the screen with a picture of a YooHoo and the nearest gas station where I can go grab one. Freaky? Yes. A reality? Yes. Coming to living rooms near you? Also yes.
Now, before you write your congressman, understand that the technology will only be implemented and used by those who ask for it. Features for the camera can be customized, privacy settings toggled and information sharing declined and of course – if you don’t want one, don’t buy one.
As for the rest of us advertising and media nerds, this is pretty exciting stuff. I think we will be seeing a new generation of TV ratings and programming demographic data on the horizon. As invasive as some of today’s new technology feels, knowing your customer better can only allow you to better serve your customer.
Now, “Xbox, go get me a Pepsi from the fridge.”
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