Sure today's Microsoft E3 keynote was jam-packed full of high octane explosions, but the biggest excitement from the hardware-free event was arguably SmartGlass, a new technology from Redmond that promises to help to bring together users' diverse array of screens. When it was initially leaked ahead of the event, SmartGlass looked to largely be a somewhat straightforward AirPlay competitor. Judging by Microsoft's flashy demo video, however, the company is clearly looking to build it into its own beast all together. Thankfully, we got to play with it a bit -- albeit for a very short amount of time, given the fairly early state of the technology.
Let's start thing off by clarifying a big question surrounding the somewhat enigmatic demo that we saw at today's event: yes, SmartGlass gives developers the potential to turn smartphones and tablets into a controller for the Xbox 360. As suspected, it will likely be integrated into more casual games -- after all, we shudder at the thought of controlling, say, Halo 4 using just a touchscreen. As is the nature of the product, the company isn't letting the details flow too freely here, but in a demo we saw of the technology tonight, a Microsoft rep name-dropped a title called Home Run Stars -- a baseball game, as you've likely already gathered from the fairly straightforward name.
We didn't get to see the game in action, but the rep mentioned a gameplay scenario in which one player uses the Kinect to bat and the other pitches with the touchscreen -- again, not too dissimilar from the kind of dual-screen gaming we've seen with the Wii U thus far. And you can also invert that game play, if you so choose, pitching on the Kinect and batting with a tablet or smartphone. Thing is, Microsoft is looking to make this whole process open for developers. As the rep put it, "what we've done is create a platform." In other words, Redmond is putting forward the tools here and letting the content developers play around, to come up with their own functionality based on SmartGlass.