Tanooki’s Tangents: Xbox Smartglass

So. Windows 8 is out.  I could go off for hours on the goods and bads of it.  There’s a lot of people crying “Oh nos! It’s terrible! I FEAR CHANGE!!” while hiding under their desks hugging their bronzed box of Windows XP.  And still others are singing praises of “it’s the most intuitive piece of engineering this world has EVER seen!  Better than gravity!” and then rolling around naked on magazine advertisements for Surface.  But I’m going skip the review on 8 for now. THIS particular blog is about Xbox Smartglass.


For those of you that don’t know, Xbox Smartglass is an app that you can download on your PC, phone, or tablet.  With Smartglass running on your favorite techer-toy you can connect to your Xbox 360 and make it do fancy tricks such as turning it into a controller or having “buddy” features for a show or game.  It’s rather bare bones at the moment, but the possibilities make me want to do cartwheels.  (Here’s a LINK to my favorite site, Gizmodo, explaining it in more detail if you’re interested.)

“A concrete example: As Game of Thrones was being shown on the TV via Xbox 360, a SmartGlass-enabled tablet displayed a map of Westeros and other relevant information about the show. Content can either be pushed from the tablet/phone/computer to the 360, or from the 360 directly to the TV. SmartGlass connects all of those devices to make content engrossing on multiple levels. Your individual devices don’t have to ignore each other, they’ll work together to entertain you more.”

There are 70 million Xboxes in world, and the majority of those households have a tablet or phone capable of running Smartglass.  It’s the quiet brilliance of it really.  Microsoft says, “You don’t have to buy anything new.  Use whatever you have, even iOS products. Just download our app and go!”  Clever guys, clever.

I have high hopes for this type of interaction, and the numbers are backing me up.  How we experience our media could be changing drastically very soon.  Here’s a few ideas from my pretty, pink-haired head of how this could be used:

Interactive TV Shows

All you Psych lovers out there know that there is a pineapple somewhere in every episode.  Wouldn’t it be awesome to connect with Smartglass and buzz in each time you see one?  Build up points to use on Shaun lunchboxes and Gus plushies!

Something as simple as this type of interaction will make watching your favorite show an accelerated experience.  Shows will start to design themselves around how their audience can interact instead of passively watch.  Children’s educational shows could benefit from this greatly.  I mean really, who wouldn’t have wanted to follow along with Bill Nye the Science Guy as he taught how to make a volcano erupt?

Additional Game Content

You know that friend of yours that likes games but just kinda sucks at them?  But they still want to be part of the fun?  TADA!!  Sidekick Smartglass apps!  Have your friend collect pick-ups or reload for you as you go.  Or while the main player runs around killing and looting components, the Smartglass player could be playing a casual, crafting mini-game to construct new guns and upgrades.  You could have your own personal Q!

The ways that Smartglass will affect games is exciting to think about.  Microsoft already mentioned Madden having a Smartglass component as the playbook. That way the sneaky person you’re playing with *cough* EVE *cough* won’t be able to see your plays.

Other examples:

Sports – Watching a Celtics game?  Want to know more about Kevin Garnett as he steps up for a free throw?  How about touching your tablet to bring up his stats and video clips from his career!

News – CNN references an article about Hurricane Sandy and BOOP! It uploads instantly on your Smartglass, just in case you want to read it all along with a list of all other references within the last hour.

Marketing/Advertising – Product placements anyone?  You want the awesome jacket that Kate Beckett from Castle is wearing?  Maybe you want that particular type of whisky that Nucky is drinking on Boardwalk Empire.  Good thing Smartglass links you right to the spot to order.



I personally would have LOVED to have a digital painting app to follow along with the late and wonderful Bob Ross.  I shall make this happy little tree WITH you Bob and I won’t be dripping paint all over my floor!

I can barely stay still in my seat while I wait to see what other studios and people all over the world will come up with.  The future is frikken fantastic.