Link TVs to tablets with Microsoft SmartGlass
June 5th, 2012
The Electronic Entertainment Expo (aka E3) is usually more about the world of computer and video games than TV. But among the news to emerge from the annual expo is Microsoft’s presentation of the new SmartGlass app, designed to turn a TV and Xbox 360 into a complete multimedia centre for the home.
As recent studies have shown, the trend of multitasking across multiple screens while watching TV is on the rise. The idea behind SmartGlass is to bring your smartphone and tablet into play while watching TV, gaming, or browsing online.
To quote Microsoft:
‘What if your tablet or phone knew what you were watching on TV and presented bonus features without you having to lift a finger? What if you could use your tablet to draw up a play in EA SPORTS’ “Madden NFL” and then perform it to perfection on your TV? What if you could control your favorite websites on the TV with a simple swipe, pinch or zoom on your tablet’s touch screen?‘
As an example, Microsoft screened footage of gritty fantasy Game of Thrones on TV, accompanied by a tablet that showed a map of the fictional land of Westeros, highlighting where the scene on screen was taking place and providing additional handy info about the show.
This kind of multi-screen functionality would certainly be useful for anyone that’s missed an episode of their favourite show and is trying to catch up, or is trying to get into a show with a complicated storyline that’s already halfway through a season.
Along with SmartGlass, Microsoft revealed plans to introduce its Internet Explorer web browser to the Xbox 360, optimised to let TV users get online almost as easily as they would at a computer. But you wouldn’t have to find new plugs to attach a keyboard and mouse – SmartGlass would allow your tablet to double as your keyboard and your smartphone to double as your mouse. Both would also be able to serve as TV remote controls, as well as game controllers for the Xbox 360.
One interesting feature of SmartGlass is its universal compatbility – the app would be available for use with all TVs, mobile phones and tablets, with the only required hardware being the Xbox 360 itself. No iPhone/Android arguments here – both would be welcome, and you wouldn’t need to replace your current hardware to start flicking channels with your phone!
Not everyone was impressed by the idea though. South Park co-creator, Trey Parker, took a veiled jab while promoting the new game South Park: The Stick of Truth:
‘How many times have you been watching an episode of South Park and thought, “I’d like to watch this on my television, while hooked into my mobile device, which is being controlled by my tablet device, which is hooked into my oven, all while sitting in the refrigerator”?’