Microsoft files patent for new wearable gaming device

Published yesterday, submitted on the 4th March, Microsoft’s patent is for a curious piece of technology: ‘interactive smart beads’.

The patent describes beads which can connect together to form ‘fashion items’ – when attached to bracelets or necklaces – that can detect the presence of other such beads and autonomously interact, transferring data which the user can then view as a graphical representation via a software experience. There are examples where a bead can represent a character, location or object, and the software experience will then show on animated story based on said character, location or object, after the beads have interacted.

How does this relate to gaming? The background section of the patent reads as follows:

There are many ways that a user can interact with a computer game and typically a user controls the game via a keyboard and mouse, games controller (which may be handheld or detect body movement) or touch screen, dependent upon the platform on which the game is being played (e.g. computer, games console or handheld device). A number of games have also been developed in which gameplay is enabled (or unlocked) through the use of physical character toys which are placed on a custom base connected to a games console. By placing different toys on the custom base, different gameplay is enabled.

 The embodiments described below are not limited to implementations which solve any or all of the disadvantages of known methods of interacting with software.

In other words, Microsoft appears to not only be considering video game interaction but expanding the beads to be applicable for many types of interaction. This rather large paragraph provides more detail:

“In various examples, the connecting element communicates with a software experience running on a separate computing-based device (e.g. a smartphone, tablet, laptop, games console, desktop computer, etc.) to enable the user (e.g. the wearer of the fashion item) to engage in different software experiences regarding the past interactions and/or current state of beads. In various examples, the communication with a software experience enables the user to review past interactions between beads and/or the current state of beads, where each bead may represent a character (e.g. human, animal, etc.) or environment (e.g. a place, location, object, structure) within the software experience. In other examples, a bead may represent an object associated with (e.g. carried or owned by) a character or environment, a skill or emotion, an abstract software concept such as a “powerup” in a game experience (e.g. where the user gains virtual goods or boosts in statistics), a time, date or time period, e.g. “night time”, “Valentine’s day”, “autumn”, “birthday”, an activity (e.g. swimming, running), a brand, logo or icon (e.g. Microsoft®, Skype™, Facebook™, Spotify™, Twitter™, etc.), a popular cultural reference, e.g. a TV show, actor, singer, movie, genre of music, etc. In all these cases the referred-to concept can be fictional or real, and in many cases can be general (e.g. “a forest”) or specific (e.g. “Sherwood forest”). In various examples, a user may be able to configure (e.g. via the software experience) what a smart bead represents (e.g. a user may be able to program beads to be associated with different applications, different people, etc.) and/or to configure how a bead acts in response to interactions.”


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You can find much more information in the patent itself, but even from this short amount there’s enough to make you wonder what these beads could be made to do in the hands of the innovative and imaginative. Could this new tech even connect to future Xbox titles? Time will tell.

What are your thoughts on this new technology – would you buy or avoid? What would you like to see it used for? Let us know in the comments!

(Thanks, 1080Players)

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