Microsoft appears to have a secured a key victory in the war for the living room, snatching home entertainment technology company id8 Group R2 Studios from the hands of Apple and Google to "beef up" the Xbox division. That's according to The Wall Street Journal, via The Verge.
A tiny start-up, id8 Group R2 Studios is probably worth owning not for its staff but for its patents, which reportedly cover devices and software that unify control of all the various nuggets of technology in the average household. I've managed to unearth one US patent for a "method, system, and computer program product for managing controlled residential or non-residential environments" , assigned to one Paul Krzyzanowski on R2's behalf.
"A control server, or similar central processor, manages the distribution of data (including audio and video), voice, and control signals among a plurality of devices connected via a wired and/or wireless communications network," reads the attached blurb.
"The devices include audio/visual devices (such as, televisions, monitors, PDAs, notepads, notebooks, MP3, portable stereo, etc.) as well as household appliances (such as, lighting, ovens, alarm clocks, etc.). The control server supports video/audio serving, telephony, messaging, file sharing, internetworking, and security.
"A portable controller allows a user to access and control the network devices from any location within a controlled residential and/or non-residential environment, including its surrounding areas. The controllers are enhanced to support location-awareness and user-awareness functionality."
All-pervading, effortless control over a unified suite of entertainment functions is one of Microsoft's big goals for the world of tomorrow, as the existence of Kinect and the Xbox SmartGlass app attests. The next generation Xbox may take all this further than simply queuing up Led Zeppelin tracks from the comfort of the bathroom, however - Microsoft has patented technology that, in theory, projects interactive game graphics into the air around your telly.
Another patent paints the picture of a world in which Kinect turns copyright enforcer. Take the rain with the shine, I guess.