The Current Approach

5 Nov

The current approach to second hand screen gameplay is mind boggling. With the PS4 and xBoxOne coming out by the end of the year, along with many other releases, we can definitely see that this trend is not a fad, it will continue until there’s no end.

I will now describe some of the consoles and concepts which will contain second screen gaming which are just on and will be on the market soon.


PS4 & Cross-Play

One of the features coming with the launch of Sony’s new PS4 console next month is a second screen experience that will enable use of your iPhone or iPad with the console. Today, Sony has released a statement confirming that this, plus other features will require a launch day software update to enable:

We wanted to shed some light on system software update version 1.50 for PS4, which will launch simultaneously with the system’s official North American launch on November 15th, 2013. By updating to system software version 1.50, you’ll be able to experience a variety of new features in addition to the basic functions of PS4.

Users can use the PS4 Link application for the PS Vita system, and PlayStation App for iPhone, iPad, and Android-based smartphones and tablets, to use these devices as second screens in supported titles. PlayStation App has the ability to enable users to interact with games with their mobiles devices. For example on The Playroom, a title pre-installed in all PS4 systems that requires PlayStation Camera, users can draw pictures on their mobile device screens and flick them towards the TV. The images then appear as a 3D object within the game.

Integration with our iPhone and iPad continues to intrigue, and it’s going to be exciting as time goes on to see how game developers involve our mobile devices in the overall experience. But before anyone can do anything, they’ll need to download the 300MB software update.

Additionally, Sony has also detailed when said application will be available to download from the App Store. Initially it will become available on November 13 in the U.S, two days before the launch of the console. Then, Europe will follow on November 22 ahead of the November 29 launch in countries such as the UK. Is second screen something you’re looking forward to from your PS4?

Sony has taken its first step to integrate their Playstation 3 console with their handheld device, PS Vita via the Cross-Play feature, allowing the gamer to stop playing on one device and resume on another device.



XboxOne & Smartglass (2013)

Microsoft is also working on exploiting the second screen in a more unique way with a “bring your own device” policy for Xbox Smartglass.

Game of Thrones on three screens

This unique approach allows you to augment existing hardware such as the Xbox 360 with a tablet, a phone or even another computer which has some advantages over Nintendo’s approach to the second screen. Currently Xbox Smartglass is focused more on media and content delivery instead of solely gaming like on Wii U but we’ll probably see more and more games start taking advantage of this experience. This is bound to be something to expect in the near future.

Xbox Smartglass is currently setup to run with a single second screen device just like the Wii U. That could change in the future and I think the real key to this approach is the fact that the second screen app runs independently of main screen’s hardware so less data needs to stay in sync. This is a more efficient way to handle the hardware demand of a second screen experience. On the Wii U, the system is pushing the video to the Wii U GamePad making it a one way only experience since the controller is just a display/input shell with no real CPU or GPU of its own. This makes any second screen experience capped by the performance of the main system which now has to push both screens verses the Smartglass approach were both devices work in tandem and have their own independent hardware.

With this approach you can have a much richer experiences on the second screen devices and even have “offline modes” where the second screen can run independently of the main screen such as on the go or even when the system is just turned off. I am a big fan of how the Wii U handles playing Mario on the second screen without the need to turn on a TV but the Wii U still has to be on, the controller is basically useless without the Wii U being turned on. The Wii U and Xbox Smartglass aren’t the only mainstream second screen experiences out there.


Microsoft Illumiroom

IllumiRoom is a Microsoft Research project that augments a television screen with images projected onto the wall and surrounding objects. The current proof-of-concept uses a Kinect sensor and video projector. The Kinect sensor captures the geometry and colors of the area of the room that surrounds the television, and the projector displays video around the television that corresponds to a video source on the television, such as a video game or movie.

Just watch, this looks amazing:


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