Xbox rewards for watching television
JUST gorged on an entire series of Game of Thrones? Then you deserve a reward. Microsoft plans to give special "awards" to viewers in return for watching television programs and advertisement on its new Xbox One games console.
A patent application lodged by the US computer giant reveals that the company wants to incentivise TV viewing by offering tangible rewards to everyone watching video content on its devices.
The concept, an extension of the "achievements" that Xbox 360 players can unlock by completing in-game tasks, could lead to viewers getting free Microsoft products in return for watching TV. But the awards scheme would also require a sophisticated monitoring system to track every program and advert watched by its users, and confirm that they had actively engaged with rewardable content.
The Microsoft patent states that TV watching currently "tends to be a passive experience for a viewer".
To increase interactive viewing and "encourage a user to watch one or more particular items of video content, awards and achievements may be tied to those items of content," the document logged with the US Patent and Trademark Office says.
"Producers, distributors, and advertisers of the video content may set viewing goals and award a viewer who has reached the goals."
The reward could be virtual, in the form of unlocking extra points or content in a game, or "coupons for an advertised product or service, or an actual product". Viewers who watch an entire series could be rewarded with free downloads of a future show or a new game.
What if a viewer simply leaves their device in "play" mode before disappearing to fiddle with their iPad? The patent suggests that the rewards system could be made compatible with Microsoft's Kinect sensor.
The viewing behaviour could include "an action performable by the viewer and detectable by one or more sensors, such as a depth camera". A sensor could detect whether a viewer's eyes were really on the screen.
The patent also mentions a system "configured to track the viewing behaviours of one or more viewers" that can "compile one or more user-specific reports of the viewing behaviours, and send the user-specific reports to a remote device to determine whether the user-viewing goal has been met".
Microsoft believes its patent, which it calls "The Awards and Achievements Across TV Ecosystem", will find favour with advertisers struggling to target viewers who can now speed through commercial breaks at high speed using digital catch-up services.
The patent did not state which platform the rewards system would operate through but it is believed that the Xbox One and 360 consoles are the likeliest targets.