One of the many awesome features of Kinect is the ability to control the Xbox 360 console through voice interactions. The problem, as anyone who's tried it will know, is that it really isn't all that good. Far from being a natural way to interact with the console, the system requires users to voice specific terms or phrases that appear on screen and it can often be quicker to use a controller or remote to navigate to what you want, than to spend time shouting at the console.
But all that looks set to change with the next-generation Xbox. The Verge has learned that Microsoft has big plans for voice interactions on the new console, which will see the system improved to support much more natural speech recognition. Instead of relying on clunky commands such as "Xbox, Music, Xbox Music", the user will be able to ask questions and give instructions in a more natural style, such as "what's new on Xbox Music?" or "show me my playlists".
The enhancements go even deeper than this. The new console is said to support speech-to-text conversion, offering a significant boost to messaging interaction on the platform.
Even more exciting, it's believed that it will also allow users to wake the console using a voice command, something which isn't possible on the current-generation Kinect. This will likely rely on the new Xbox offering a low-power standby mode, to enable the console to respond to boot up on voice-request.
In recent weeks, we've heard extensive rumours about the new console, including the suggestion that it will require a permanent internet connection, and even reports of its purported specs. There have also been persistent rumours of an 'Xbox Surface' companion tablet, which would make launch alongside the console.
The next-generation Xbox - codename 'Durango', though often colloquially referred to as 'Xbox 720' - will make its public debut later this year; full details will likely emerge at E3, although as we've previously reported, it's widely believed that Microsoft may hold a launch event for the new console before then.