Microsoft is developing a companion experience technology that might revolutionize content consumption

The concept would truly elevate multitasking.

by Flavius Floare

Flavius Floare

Flavius is a writer and a media content producer with a particular interest in technology, gaming, media, film and storytelling. He’s always curious and ready to take on… read more

microsoft companion experience

Content consumption in 2023 is abundant, to say the least, and there are dozens of streaming platforms that people can subscribe to: Netflix, Max, Disney+, Spotify, YouTube, which recently implemented an ad-block blocker technology to make people subscribe to its Premium version, and many more of the kind.

With such a variety of content at people’s disposal, tech companies are coming up with newer devices to consume it. For example, Facebook’s Meta Quest 3 and Apple’s Vision Pro are two head-mount VR devices that will support the consumption of content while reportedly being able to do other stuff in between, if we’re to consider the teaser for Vision Pro, at least.

The idea of multitasking while consuming content is not new, however, we kind of lack the proper technology to make it automatic, and a VR headset might seem a bit too claustrophobic for many to even try to do several things at once.

But what do you think about the idea of having a content companion that would offer you a companion experience while consuming content? The idea is definitely intriguing, and Microsoft is already patenting a technology for it.

In a recent patent published by the Redmond-based tech giant which you can read here, the company is developing a so-called companion experience system that allows content on one screen to trigger related content on another screen.

Think of it this way: Imagine you’re watching a movie on your TV, and your tablet automatically shows you related content, for example, the actors’ bios or behind-the-scenes videos. You could also move this feature to show the related content on your TV and the movie on your tablet or have both on the same screen.

Yes, you can already do that, but you have to do it manually, and the inventors behind the patent are aware of this discomfort.

Many users like to multitaks across different computing devices. For example, a suer may consume content on one device and manuallu execute searches associated with the content on a different device. Having to manually enter searches, as described above, can be distracting for the user and can detract from the user’s experience.

However, the technology is not meant only for passive content consumption. Gamers can use it too: the companion could automatically show a tutorial on your phone for a quest you’re having problems completing in a video game, both at the same time. Intriguing, right?

The whole concept resembles a miniature cross-device, multi-operating system experience that could potentially allow us to have access to different forms of content at the same time without necessarily ruining the experience of consuming it. The Redmond-based tech giant is already working on a technology for multi-device experiences, but this is a bit different.

Microsoft’s companion experience technology: How does it work?

First of all, the Microsoft companion experience system would be automatic once enabled. That means every time a user consumes content, the companion acts and provides them with related suggestions and data, as follows:

  1. You would start by watching or interacting with content on a main screen (the “primary screen”, as the patent describes it).
  2. This primary content automatically triggers a search for related content.
  3. This related content is then displayed on a different screen (which the patent calls the “auxiliary screen”).
  4. The companion experience (the process of showing related content on the auxiliary screen) can be moved between different companion experience
  5. These screens could be separate physical screens (a TV and a tablet), or they could be different parts of the same screen (different windows on a computer monitor).

In many ways, the system can be a multi-device experience but instead of moving content around (especially in the case of video games), it focuses on delivering the best solutions for encouraging an efficient multitasking experience when consuming content.

Multi-device experiences such as Samsung’s Galaxy Connected Experience or the newer Snapdragon Seamless are here to prove that people are no longer interested in using just one device to get something done. The current technology allows for a seamless integration of content from one device to another, as in the case of Samsung devices.

But we don’t have an AI-enhanced companion that automatically provides us with related data to the content we consume. Trying to fix a computer while stressfully mingling between browser tabs for tutorials and the original pane that has the issue? Why not let the Microsoft companion experience show you the exact tutorial on your phone while focusing on getting the steps right?

It could revolutionize multitasking, that’s for sure.

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