Is the Xbox 360 Becoming the Must-Have Home Gadget?

Microsoft has been making non-gaming headlines with the Xbox. What can we expect next?


It’s been about six years since the Xbox 360 made its big debut. Just a year ago, Microsoft added the Kinect accessory, which opened up a whole new world of possibilities for gamers and non-gamers alike. Now, it’s time to dust off that impulse purchase. This gaming console is starting to get really interesting.

The gaming market has been competitive since the days of Pac-Man — maybe even before that. For the past few years, Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo have all introduced motion-controlled gaming options to get the gaming market moving (literally). While you have been perfecting your boxing and dance moves, Microsoft has been angling the Xbox 360 as the ultimate home device.

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Nintendo got a nice boost from the Wii’s motion-enhanced features, including the Wii Fit add-on. Sony’s PlayStation 3 added in the Move, Blu-ray, 3D, and a whole network of entertainment options. Now, it’s time for Microsoft to shine, without the need for a whole new console upgrade.

We’ve seen plenty of Kinect user hacks (like this one and this one). Now, it seems that Microsoft wants to add its own tweaks to make the console much more than your average gaming system. Back in October, Microsoft announced the launch of Xbox TV. That added content put the console in closer competition with Sony’s PlayStation 3, as well as the likes of Google TV and Apple TV.

Last week, the Xbox camp announced additional features that allow users to control some of that entertainment via Kinect, a wave of the hand, and even Bing voice search. We have to wonder how this new-found home control could leak into other areas of the home. Full home theater control, perhaps? Maybe even lighting?

The people at Xbox have to be wondering, too. Around the same time last week, the company announced a contest, inviting users to come up with new and inventive ways to use the Xbox 360. The contest runs through April 2012, but includes a caveat that Microsoft can license the winner’s innovation.

While you wait, at least there are the Xbox TV features — which should be getting even better, by the way. Bloomberg says that Microsoft is looking for an experienced TV exec to develop original programming for the Xbox TV service.

Do you have an Xbox 360 in the current rotation? Have you tried any hacks or the new features? What are you hoping to see on the Xbox in the near future? Be realistic — and sound off in the comments section below.


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