Microsoft has very wisely patented a magic wand, a patent that will come in handy if and when wizards emerge from Agartha and attempt to take over the world. Oh they’ll be within their legal rights to try to push us all around, but they won’t be able to use their magic wands. The wizards, not Microsoft. Microsoft can push us around all they want.
Alas, the patent that Microsoft has on its magic wand is only magic in the sense that a universal remote control is magic. Filed in late 2007 and hitting the open air a few days ago, the patent details a device with accelerometers, buttons, transmitters, receivers, and proximity sensors that you carry from room to room in order to manipulate all of the electronic devices in your “connected home.”
Yes, that connected home. The same connected home we’ve been hearing about since the early 90’s, where your microwave communicates with your toaster and your refrigerator can sense when you’re low on milk and order a new carton online, to be delivered from the space-age grocery store down the street.
Connected home or not, Microsoft has covered all the bases as far as avatars are concerned:
“As one illustration, the child might select the professor or wizard avatar 136, whereas the elderly person, say, the child’s grandmother, might select avatar 136 that is reminiscent of Jimmy Stewart but switch to John Wayne for applications when a no-nonsense style is desired.”
So there’s that.
Joking aside, this wand would apparently have a biometric sensor that could not only sense which person in your household is holding it but can also detect that person’s mood. Other features would include voice guidance and targeting — “Your focus is the lamp. Press the red button to target this object.” — holographic avatars, instructions, and information, and various ways to manipulate objects based on how you sling the wand around. The example is given of moving the wand up and down like a fishing pole to brighten or dim a lamp, plus you could twist the wand like a screwdriver to change the color of the light. Picture Cooking Mama but much more involved.
At the end of the day, take a universal remote, add some of the Wii-mote’s features, and sprinkle in a dash of the electric pin example from The Road Ahead that Bill Gates wrote about back in 1995 and you get the general idea. It may or may not ever become an actual product, but at least wizards won’t get to zap people or go around dimming lamps without infringing upon Microsoft’s patent.