A new rumor came out today, courtesy of the Verge, which details some of the plans for the upcoming Xbox 720/Durango and how it will integrate with your home entertainment center. Well, when I say integrate, it feels more like completely take over and mainlining itself into your bloodstream to get you addicted and be unable to wean yourself off of it. If that sounds a bit extreme, the concept that was leaked out does sound a bit extreme, as Microsoft’s plans for the Xbox 720 are for it to take over your television. When the rumors of “always on” internet started surfacing, fears were what they would use it for, and it looks like part of it might be to integrate itself with your television services as a whole.
According to the article on The Verge, the idea is that your cable or set top box that you use to watch television on will plug into your Xbox 720 via a HDMI cable and that the Xbox 720 will, in a way, take it over. If you’ve never seen Google TV in action before, it would create an overlay of sorts, allow for you to do searches and pull up content based on what you were doing on your TV. The basic functionality will be available at launch, but “expanded” support for specific carriers will come with time. If anything, Microsoft looks to be more invasive into your entertainment life and make the Xbox 720 something that you won’t just want, but need as a part of your entertainment experience.
The Kinect will also play a big part in this as well, as it will be tracking eye movements of everyone in the room who is watching the television and, if for example, one of the viewers were to look away for an extended period of time, whatever is playing on the television would pause. These features are, in a way, kind of cool and seem like the next logical step in how we interact with our entertainment devices and how they interact with us.
On the other hand, this is downright terrifying.
When Google did it, it seemed innocent enough and didn’t seem to be that invasive. The idea was helping you to have a better television experience. A lot of the features that this rumor is proposing would have Microsoft having more access to what you, the consumer, were doing at all times and allow for them to integrate their products and services into your life in a bigger, more intrusive way. Watching television right now is a moderately private experience, but taking away some layers of that privacy seems like it might not be the greatest idea in the world.
It might be time to turn to science fiction and look at how some of the greatest minds of the past fifty years see humanity going wrong, then looking back at some of these advances. Having a more automated life is a good thing, as is having our electronics respond to our habits, likes and dislikes. The idea of the internet being used in conjunction with that, to analyze it and then try to monetize it seems like a step too far. Many are already leery of Google and how they and other advertising giants target their ads for users. Microsoft knows that the Xbox 720 will be a huge part of popular culture and in a lot of homes, this just seems like too much.
What do you think? Is technology going too far?