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Microsoft patent shows off Xbox-inspired touch input

Xbox Surface Controller

Let’s not beat around the bush. When the touch-centric iPhone came out in 2007 it changed mobile gaming – for the better. It helped to push mobile gaming to the masses and cement touch as a viable input option for games. Since then Android and Windows Phone have had their share of awesome games – beautiful and fun games stuff like Tentacles and Contre Jour are examples of games that couldn’t exist without touch. One thing that’s lacked in the tablet and smartphone space is a unified input system. A recent patent filing shows that Microsoft is positioning to change that.

The first and coolest patent is Fig. 1 showing off a potential graphical user interface for input that can be displayed on a touch based device. If you’ve ever played an Xbox you’ll notice where this patent was inspired from. Take an Xbox 360 controller, split it in half, digitize it for a touch display and you have the patent below.

Xbox Display Patent

One thing that jumps out for everyone playing armchair analysis at home is that this could give insight into future plans with the next Xbox and gaming on Windows 8. We’ll be learning more over the coming months: Xbox unveil in late May, E3 and Build in June. But it’s hard not to imagine a scenario where you have the potential to develop a game for both the next Xbox and Windows 8 simultaneously. The Xbox has the advantage of having an established input method (the controller) and this patent shows how developers can target a unified touch input for their game that already works on Xbox.

While you could probably just use a USB Xbox controller to control the game on your tablet / laptop / desktop, this provides a touch based input for when you don’t have that available.

This patent was filed back in the fourth quarter of 2011, but it’s not hard to picture Microsoft having a long term vision with the Xbox story on Windows 8. There’s also rumors of more Surface devices coming out, even one with an emphasis the Xbox brand and media consumption – gaming, reading, music, video, etc.

What do you guys think?

Source: Patent Bolt Via: Reddit

P.S. This comment below was so awesome, I wanted to point it out here so you don't miss it. 

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Reader comments

Microsoft patent shows off Xbox-inspired touch input

46 Comments

Can we use Xbox controller in L920? Is there any bt option? Be good for modern combat game I just loaded

Unfortunately, the Xbox 360 does not use Bluetooth for its controllers. It uses the 2.4 GHz frequency with its own protocols.

As said, not an XBox 360 controller, they use a variation of WiFi instead of bluetooth for speed and bandwidth.  (Bluetooth of the XBox 360/PS3 era had much more latency than the technology Microsoft uses in the XBox 360 controllers. Hardcore gamers that are tech minded can see the latency of the PS3 controllers compared to the XBox 360 controllers, as it does impact gaming. The XBox 360 technology also can carry more data for the headset and keypad, etc.)
The next generation XBox will use an even newer variation of the XBox 360 controller technology that further reduces latency that is hitting at and even below many direct cable technologies for even better response.
 
As for your phone, there are a few 3rd party MFRs that have WiFi and Bluetooth controllers designed for WP8 with some that also craddle/hold the phone.  Most are cross platform controllers that are designed to work with Android and iOS as well and have recently been updated to support WP8.  More are also coming out early this summer.
 
I wish Microsoft would have enabled the XBox 360 controller for WP8, and they may yet, as the phone hardware supports the technology, although it may be a WP8 Blue timeline release, and at that point they may just target the Next XBox controller instead.
 

Touch made gaming better? That's BS! Instead decent AAA releases suffered and turned everyone into casual gamer. Kinect also played a part in the killing of AAA games. Where are all the titles on the original Xbox that never made it to the 360. Microsoft hardly has any first part studios making hardcore games. Touch and motion destroyed gaming.

You're blaming the 2010 Kinect and 2007 iPhone for games not coming over to the 2005 Xbox? I think you're messing up the timeline here or something, because those things didn't kill any original Xbox franchises.

Yes I'm blaming this casual shift on those and really it started with that dame Wii. Worst system I ever bought. So where is Killer Instinct, crimson skys and many more. I haven't thought about this in a long time so the titles slip my mind and I'm not home to look through my old library. All Microsoft does is recycle Halo, Gears, and Fable.

Time to switch  to PlayStation? They brought more than 20 new AAA IPs to this generation. If you are tired of Halo and Gears of War, I'm sure that you will find many great hardcore titles there!

I'm way ahead of you Bro. It's a shame that the best mobile gaming system right now which is the PS Vita is suffering because of this casual shift. Smartphones have become the new mobile gaming and smartphones are not even close to being superior to the Vita. Physical controls are just better for gaming. This touch screen virtual controls suck compared to the real thing.

I love KILLER INSTINCT! There was hope for it but MS ran into dispute over the name with some movie studio. Its a well loved game and there is high demand for it. A couple of days ago I read news from techno buffalo, i think, that the dispute has been resolved. If you think about it, resolved would mean MS was actually fighting for it. SO maybe in the near term future will see something again.

You could download Snes8x and get Killer Instinct on your phone. With the Moga Pro controller coming out Tuesday 4/16 with WP8 support I'm sure it won't be long before we see an update to use the controller.

You know, I was there too and no such thing happened. Yes, there are casual players who prefer touch controls. But think of the oodles of good things that came out. Companies like Nintendo also included touch controls in their system and the DS had some kick butt titles that were certainly not casual (looking at you Etrian Odyssey). And while a number of casual players enjoy the Kinect I think it's pretty awesome to have voice commands on my console because it makes me feel all Star Trekky. "Xbox do this and that!". C'mon, that's awesome. XD

I'd have to agree.  In fact, I will go so far as to assert that there is not one single truly great iOS game available.  Indeed, any game where you have to touch (and therefor obscure) the screen you're playing on is basically a loser.

I don't know what everyone else says but I somewhat agree with you. E.g., I'd love to play some old as well as new phone games using a D-pad or for example on the MS Surface, I prefer my Bluetooth Logitec F710 Controller over virtual on-screen controller when playing SNES games or Reckless Racing.

But that's the thing. You still get to choose. I will always prefer dedicated buttons too but I can't say the advent of touch controls was the end of gaming either. This is really just about an extra option added.

It really has been because Microsoft is no longer doing it for passion like the Xbox whose original creators had a passion for gaming. Because Xbox is successful off the back of hardcore games it is now chasing the money to satisfy shareholders just because Nintendo sold the world a gimmick. Microsoft has shut down most of their first party studios, they turned Rare in avatar making Kinect only developers. Chasing part time gamers has turned gaming into a casual affair.

That's more like it, Sam. Anyways I'm old enough not to blame touch or Kinect or the dead Move for the lack of core games, let alone for using expressions like "destroyed", , because there are plenty of core games to play, in fact much more than the time I have to play them all.

Or not. It's not like Microsoft woke up today one morning last June and decided to make the Surface. Those things are being planned and designed months/years in advance. It's totally possible If this was filed in late 2011 and the Surface was unveiled in June 2012 that it was always the plan. 

All windows 8 and WP 8 hardware should be able to pair with wireless Xbox controllers... Massive advantage right there... Tho I like the unified plan alot... It would be amazing if pcs with a certain spec could run "Xbox" as well as windows 8... Tho its kinda same thin

I'm confused, is this all just virtual buttons on the screen or is there hardware here? Because if they're just virtual, this has been done before and it's absolutely terrible. Especially the triggers.

Controls on a touch screen have been done before, and by Microsoft in the 1990s, as well as the 2002 computing era for both the touch screen enabled XP systems and TabletPC systems.

The reason what you have experienced 'sucks' is that all current designs try to replicate the physical characteristics of a controller and do very little on the software side to gather the user's intent to make the controls feel real.

If you go to Microsoft Research you can find several sets of technologies about this and related to this patent. The most notable is the non-screen touch interface, that uses a touch surface on the underside of the device/phone so that most of the 'buttons' are not obscuring the user's view of the screen. There is also the implied 'pressure' sensitive touch interface technologies, which were partially implemented in the ZuneHD, but not carried over to WP7. The ZuneHD used the 'size' of the touch point and other data to obtain pressure readings, which in the games that support it on the zuneHD are a MUCH MUCH better experience, as it can sense the user pressing the button harder and slides instead of presses based on this information for moving a Dpad/thumbstick for example. I am not sure if WP8 added back in all the touch API information, but the hardware is capable and it is a matter of Microsoft exposing it to developers. (The ZuneHD was a bit more advanced than people remember or gave it credit, not only being the first Gorilla Glass device, but also having a Tegra processor capable of HD output, and a high end multi-touch screen. This was at a time when the iPod touch and iPhone were still using one and two point 'cheap' touch screens and yet ZuneHD users were drawing with several 'pressure' aware points on the screen at the same time. (Outside of the Surface Pro Windows 8 tablet, there is still very little use of pressure in tablets and phones, yet it is an ideal environment due to the increased information and accuracy provided.)

The other information at Microsoft Research if it is still available is based on how software sees the multi-touch points and tries to understand them in the context of a interface pad aka gaming controller. This alone makes a HUGE difference, and can be an even better touch based controller than actual older gaming pads; however, again this is not something you find in games on Android or iOS sadly and this is why people hate the concept of a touch screen controller.

Your reply was so awesome it destroyed the message box...thank you for the insightful analysis and honorable mention for the ZuneHD reference. It was such a great product that unfortunately was never given the due it deserved =[

I'd like it better if they got their crap in gear with media already. This Xbox Music and Video is still a train wreck after this long. Don't add anything else Xbox, till you fix the crap you broke already.

I'm guesing with the way the triggers are set up, you'll be playing this flat on a surface or your lap. While you have your hands hovering over the touchscreen. Thumbs down on the controll sticks and middle fingers to hit the triggers/bumpers. There is no way you can hit the triggers with the way Figs. 2-4 are drawn.

I was thinking the exact same thing. Figs. 2-4 show the fingers exept for the thumb under the device. Which is like holding a controller. Having the triggers/bumpers on the front would make it look like you're playing the piano. A combination of software sticks and buttons with hardware triggers/bumpers on the back or top would make it feel more like a real controller. You wouldn't be able to hold the tablet in the first figure.

I still remembered people whinig because one couldn't use SmartGlass has a Xbox controller... I mean, wtf ?! Why would someone want to use a phone to play a game on your 360 ?! The love to whine.

This just looks like the plans for SmartGlass their XBox Companion app :/ But if it is something more than that then go ahead Microsoft, show us what you got

The next xbox controllers should support bluetooth, or there should be a much smaller usb dongle for the pc so you can connect your xbox controller to your tablet/pc.  Something the size of a small bluetooth dongle, the current xbox 360 wireless controller dongle for pc's is quite large and has a long usb cable on it.  It should be a small dongle to plug in or preferably the next xbox controllers use bluetooth - that way you can play on your windows phone or surface tablet without using any dongles.