The Microsoft offices at London Victoria were the scene of ‘Innovation Day’ today. The event was tailored toward agencies and advertisers, and showcased the potential of Windows Phone 7 and Kinect for Xbox 360. An impressive line-up of speakers was on hand to demonstrate the most exciting features of both devices, and share opportunities with the audience on both a consumer and professional level. After the presentations was the opportunity to put Windows Phone 7 and Kinect for Xbox 360 to the test.
What do Consumers Want?
Olivier Van Duüren (EMEA Regional Solution & Agency Sales Senior Director) opened the day by talking about the democratisation of technology where the consumer’s voice is in control.
According to Van Duüren consumers have a couple of main demands when it comes to technique. They want it their way and personalised, they want to be able to access anything, anywhere on any device. Consumers want new stuff, all the time which is easy to use and which involves and entertains them. On to Windows Phone 7 then!
Windows Phone 7: Built from the Ground Up!
Alex Reeve (Director Mobile Business), Oded Ran (Head of Consumer Marketing) and Paul Lyonette (Head of Mobile – Ad Sales) were next up. Work on Windows Phone 7 began from scratch two years ago and launched 2.5 weeks ago in Europe & APAC.
Oded Ran demonstrated the various hubs on the phone:
· Start Screen & Live Tiles Bring the best information from Facebook contacts, email, text messages, favourite people, pictures, music & videos to you without you having to unlock your phone.
· Calendar Enables you to share any calendar, personal and business, yours and the calendar from someone else. There is also a button to say you’re running late (brilliant!)
· Bing Search & Maps To find (local) results without having to open a browser and glide effortlessly to a map if you are looking for directions from where you are, because of the phone’s built in GPS.
· People Hub Brings all your phone numbers, email and Facebook contacts together in one place. Tweet from during the event: “Windows Phone 7 contacts migration on their People Hub with phone contacts, Facebook, Outlook, etc. is very cool”
· Picture Hub & Camera Now you don’t have to unlock your phone anymore and tap on little icons to make that once in a lifetime shot. (a personal wish come true J). This hub allows you to upload photos to Windows Live Skydrive and Facebook but also to view, for example, your Facebook photos on your phone. On Twitter: “Taking pictures on a mobile phone in the 3rd most popular task conducted. WP7 pictures can be uploaded direct to Cloud or Facebook”
· Office Hub Oded showed how you can view, manipulate, save and send all sorts of documents (Such as PowerPoint) on the go from your phone showing all fonts and effects.
· Xbox Live – on Twitter: “Xbox Live also integrated into Windows Phone 7. Now you can challenge your friends & compare scores on the go!”
The audience was tweeting “OK I need a Windows Phone 7. Not least for the entire section of the keyboard dedicated to emoticons :-) :-/ :-p” and when asked who wanted to trade their current phone for a Windows Phone 7 virtually all hands went up.
With so many Microsoft audiences pulled together on one device, Paul Lyonette stated, it offers great scale for advertising.
Kinect for Xbox 360: Jump In!
Nick Burton, Kinect Development Director (Rare Ltd), was up next to talk about the evolution of the Xbox 360 and how the promise of a ‘Minority Report World’ became reality with the development of Kinect, the world’s first hands-free motion controlled console and entertainment system.
Below are some highlights from Nick’s presentation and entertaining demo:
· Project Natal started in 2008 when Alex Kipman (Microsoft’s Xbox 360 Incubation Director) was given a small investment of $30,000 and the brief from his boss Don Mattrick, to break down barriers and evolve the Xbox 360 brand.
· The Challenge: getting rid of the barrier 30+ years of interacting with computers and technology through controllers, buttons, keyboards, handsets and mice. The way of thinking was to take the popular touch and gesture controls from mobile phone technology and scale it up so it would be affordable and work in the average family’s living room.
· The principal of Kinect is that it works on similar motion tracking technology you may have seen in big budget movie special effects and video games. However, instead of every member of the household having to don a colourful jumpsuit with the ping pong balls attached for the console to track every movement, the Kinect camera will do this for you. Developed by PrimeSense, the Kinect 3D depth and motion sensor camera chips have made the unit so sensitive; it’s like a military range finder for your living room. So instead of tracking ping pong balls the camera is smart enough to track 42 different points on the human body and translate these movements into live action. Wow!
· Kinect for Xbox 360 is not only controlled by movement but also voice. With four in-built microphones you can wander around your living room and the camera and system can track you and adhere to your commands such as: “Xbox play music” or “Xbox pause.”
· 60% of people use more than one device in the living room; Kinect is more than just a games console as you can communicate with friends and family via Windows Live Messenger, access music, video, TV and films on-demand from Zune and partners such as Last.FM and Sky.
· Creating fantastic opportunities for brands: Bella Acharya, Director of Microsoft Advertising International Ad Sales explained; Xbox 360 in-game advertising is not a new concept to Microsoft Advertising, but what is really exciting is the way brands can become even more immersed in the games than ever before for a more realistic experience. For example T-Mobile is a key sponsor on Kinect Sports as their branding appears on the pink bowling balls. Other short-term advertising opportunities include placements on the Kinect Hub.
· Finally, 1st rule of Kinect for Xbox 360: “Don’t get carried away and charge at your telly!” You’ll only damage your TV and possibly your pride! J Many thanks to the two willing guinea pigs who came up on stage and took on Nick at Kinect Sports, you were both very worthy challengers.
Closing Innovation Day was special guest speaker Paul Dawson Experience, Director from EMC Consulting, who offered his insight on how the Microsoft consumer experience has evolved over the last 5 years, as well as how he expects Microsoft to fare against the competition (very favourably!). Paul was later joined on stage once again by all the day’s presenters for a Q&A session where the first person of the day to ask a question walked away with a brand new Xbox 360 console and Kinect.
Thanks for reading,
Simone & Kate