Microsoft made a number of significant announcements at E3 on Monday, including a slew of new Kinect titles, such as ““Kinect: Disneyland Adventures,” “Kinect Star Wars” and “Sesame Street: Once Upon a Monster,” and Kinect-enhanced third-party titles such as “Mass Effect 3,” “Tomb Raider,” and EA’s perennial favorite, “FIFA.” As excited as I am about all of these new titles, for me, the real game-changer is the creative use of voice control throughout these games, and the entire Xbox LIVE experience. During Monday’s briefing, we witnessed how the simple use of voice makes discovery of, and interaction with, entertainment content unbelievably easy. Voice command technology makes interactive entertainment more immersive and intuitive than ever before.
Until now, Kinect’s primary way of engaging audiences has been through motion and body movements. Blockbuster games such as Dance Central and Kinect Sports enable consumers to practice everything from hip-hop to volleyball, using natural, intuitive body movements and gestures. While the Kinect sensor has always recognized voice commands, voice has been a secondary method of input – until now. With the simplicity of Kinect and intelligence of Bing, now you can control your entire entertainment experience using your voice—so there are no barriers between you and the content on your TV. (Just imagine, there will be no more arguing over who lost the remote, because you won’t need it. But it will be a while before Kinect can fetch you a beer from the fridge).
Beyond the sheer wow factor of using voice command technology, I was struck by its potential implications for advertisers. Marketers typically measure success by counting “eyeballs,” even though consumers are experiencing visual overload like never before. What about engaging audiences in – literally – a conversation with content? If voice commands can enable an armchair warrior to design a weapon using just his voice—why shouldn’t he be able to order a pizza while he’s at it? With Kinect technology, the time has come for marketers to stop measuring campaign success by counting eyeballs, and instead count conversations between the consumer and the interactive ad.
There were other buzz-generating announcements coming out of E3 that confirm the metamorphosis of Xbox from gaming console to all-in-one entertainment center is nearly complete. This transformation didn’t happen overnight of course, but new data confirms that Xbox LIVE draws a mass audience—one which spends staggering amounts of time engaging with entertainment. The network now boasts a global audience of nearly 35 million subscribers in 35 countries, each spending an average of 60 hours per month on the LIVE service, which means cumulatively Xbox LIVE members are now logging 2.1 billion hours a month. Thanks to the fact that Kinect is now listening, this large and growing audience has a voice – their own.
In my next post, from the Cannes International Advertising Festival, I’ll share some of the ways advertisers can hear those voices, loud and clear.
Keep your ears open.