Nestled somewhere between Microsoft’s announcement of the Xbox One and our announcement about Home: On, our upcoming home automation show, FastCompany Design released an interview with Microsoft’s chief production officer of interactive entertainment, Mark Whitten. The topic: How Microsoft sees that the Xbox One may one day be the central hub to control your home. And what Whitten talks about makes a lot of sense.
The Xbox One will likely reside in a central gathering place in your home, connected to your network and to a large display. Like it or not, it will probably always be on—certainly it would have to be on in some capacity to respond to your voice command, “Xbox: On.” And with its powerful hardware capabilities and potential for third-party app development, why not use some of its extra cycles to act as the controller for smart devices around your home. The Kinect interface could potentially aggregate and unify control over otherwise disparate systems like HVAC, security, lighting, and smart appliances—even energy monitoring. Most home control systems need some central controller, so why couldn’t it be the Xbox?
This may be the most we’ve ever heard from Microsoft in any official capacity about their plans for getting into home automation. Sure, Microsoft Research has been playing with HomeOS for a few years now, but this seems far more strategically directed than anything we’ve heard from that group.
Whitten admits that the concepts and even the project’s nickname (“Home 2.0”) still have a ways to go, so it may be a while before consumers start telling their Xbox to close the garage door and turn down the heat. But the possible opportunities this opens—even knowing that Microsoft is thinking about this now—are significant.