Eight years since the release of the original Xbox, Microsoft is coming out with a new version that boasts all kinds of bells and whistles.  Set to release later this year, Xbox One was unveiled Tuesday in a fancy on-stage demo that showed off its cool features, like the Blu-ray player, built-in Wi-Fi, 8 GB of memory, and HDMI connector.

The demo particularly highlighted the nifty voice and movement tracking capabilities that are enabled by Kinect, a feature incorporated into previous versions but improved upon for this generation.  Instead of detecting stick-figure representations of people in a room, the new Kinect detects details of the figure’s entire body, down to the finger tip. This enhanced sensitivity enables improved monitoring of how users are moving their joints and applying force, to better pick up gamer’s super-fast punches and deadly kicks for their mortal combat style competitions. 

Xbox One goes way further, though.  The audio capabilities are cleaned up, to supposedly cancel out general background noise and focus in on voice commands. It can also monitor the faces of people in front of the sensor and determine which controllers they are holding and if their expressions are happy, sad, or neutral.  Yikes!  The super wild n’ crazy part is that it monitors the heart rate and uses color cameras to measure skin flushness and infrared cameras to track blood flow under the skin. 

These high-tech body-censoring capabilities take the gamer closer to a fully-immersed experience where their body is the ultimate controller.  This is the direction gaming has been moving in for some time, and the Xbox One keeps the community advancing down that path. 

What the Xbox One also does, is try to include people less interested in gaming, into the Xbox experience. The device has DVR-recording and Skype capabilities, allowing for easy communication between Grandma and little Timmy amid rounds of Halo 4.  Microsoft hopes these additional features will make its newest device appealing to the non-gaming members of the family, making them willing to pay the not-yet-disclosed asking price when Xbox One hits stores.
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Elizabeth Cunningham

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