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The Xbox 720 Files: Microsoft's master-plan for the next generation

CVG examines key details and breakthrough technologies found in the leaked 56-page document

Page 5 of 7

*Disclaimer: The information hereinbelow is taken from an Xbox 720 design document written in 2010. Some of the details will have been revised, perhaps extensively. For more information on the reliability of the data, go here

4. Kinect Glasses - Microsoft's augmented reality breakthrough

Next-generation Augmented Reality shades will be the show-stopping centrepiece of Microsoft's Xbox 720 offering, the leaked document suggests.

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Described in the file as "Kinect Shades", the unique peripheral will allow several players to view moving augmented reality images simultaneously.

"The game has broken out of the screen and is all around you," reads the document's suggested marketing line. Images show Kinect shades attached to smartphones, or a microconsole, that pulls image data created by the Xbox over Wi-Fi.

Theoretically, with Kinect communicating with the shades, player positions can be identified and thus multiple people can see the same moving AR image from different viewpoints.

The Microsoft document claimed the device would be a "breakthrough in heads-up and hands-free devices".

It claims the service will provide "seamless integration of the digital world with the physical world".

The pitch to developers reads: "Build next gen immersive experiences that extend beyond the TV. Incorporate the living room into your storytelling."

Feasibity
Torsten Hoffmann, an expert and regular speaker on emerging 3D technologies, said the Kinect Glasses set-up was "entirely feasible".

"The set-up is similar to Google's Project Glass," Hoffmann told CVG, referencing the search engine giant's recent glasses tech that layer digital information over the real world.

Hoffmann said that using Xbox 720 to stream the content would pave the way for new, rich augmented reality tech.

"Even though we already have things like Layar and other Augmented Reality technologies, these are all dependent on phone power. But to have a home console generate the images would allow for a much more striking graphics."

It remains a matter for debate whether Microsoft is pursuing the Kinect Glasses strategy. The service is codenamed Fortazela - named after the state capital of Ceará in Northeastern Brazil.

"Microsoft has a codename for absolutely everything," a second development source recently told CVG. "They are obsessed with codenaming new ideas with places around the world."

Kinect's original codename was Natal a city is also in the northeast of Brazil.

Roadmap to Fortazela
Microsoft plans to delay the release of its Kinect Glasses until one or two years after the system's release, the document suggests. This is likely because they will appeal to a more casual audience and not early adopters who will buy the 720 on day-one.

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It is also suggested that the Shades will elongate the Xbox 720 lifecycle in a similar manner to how Kinect evolved the 360 experience.

By 2014, a new Glasses SDK will be issued to developers, while Microsoft works on what it calls a "Glasses app store".

Kinect Shades on the go

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By 2015, Microsoft will issue a Mobile Glasses SDK to studios. It promises that developers can utilise a "low dev cost for building 'connected' glasses experiences on the go".

It is believed that Xbox Live's cloud service will be central to the experience, with data pulled over a 4G connection. The document's pitch to developers is: "Build heads up/hands free next gen immersive experiences for mobile computing. Incorporate the real world into your storytelling."

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