Microsoft takes Xbox gaming achievements to TV


Microsoft has been granted a patent on what looks remarkably like taking the achievements system it uses for games and applying it to TV show and commercial watching. There’s no word yet on whether Microsoft plans to exploit the patent, but it’s certainly interesting timing given the Xbox One announcement.

The patent covers ” A method for awarding a user, comprising: receiving a user-viewing goal detailing a specific linear video content viewing behavior of the user; receiving one or more user-specific reports of all linear video content viewing behaviors of the user while using each of a plurality of different applications; and granting an award to the user if the user-specific reports collectively indicate the user-viewing goal is reached by the user. ”

In plain English, that means you get an award — most likely in virtual form — for watching stuff. The patent goes on to explain that specific behavior could include watching an episode of a show, watching an entire series, and watching one or more commercials that air during the episode.

Most strikingly, the patent also covers rewarding viewers if they perform a particular action during a show, with the example of holding up a specific object that can be recognized by a device’s “vision module.”

In return for this, you’ll get an award. Most of these will be virtual, with Microsoft giving the examples of increasing a “viewer score” or, bizarrely, giving a “new bicycle for an avatar of the viewer.” How this differs from giving the avatar a second-hand bicycle isn’t clear. The patent does also note that users could get a physical reward in some cases

Microsoft notes that the technology described in the patent would need several components to work, notably a way of receiving video from sources including cable TV, over-the-air broadcasts and the Internet, along with a microphone and a camera capable of detecting depth of movement. That sounds remarkably like the forthcoming XBox One.

As with all patents, there’s no guarantee anything will come of it. It seems hard to imagine many viewers will have much interest in watching a show just to get the “achievement”, while publicizing the reward program will simply draw more attention to the fact that Microsoft wants to know exactly what you’ve been watching on TV.

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