Microsoft files 'magic wand' trademark

Newly disclosed patent filing from software giant describes a new way to control everything from a game console to a thermostat.

While virtually every tech company is concerned with building the better mouse trap, Microsoft is apparently trying to build a better mouse.

Seattle based technology blog TechFlash this week picked up on a newly disclosed patent filing from Microsoft for a motion-sensing "Magic Wand" interface that would allow users to turn on lights, crank up the heat, and possibly even play games with a flick of the wrist.

The wand is technically described as "an architecture that can facilitate rich interaction with and/or management of environmental components included in an environment." It could incorporate a number of handy devices including an accelerometer, a gyroscope, a camera, a laser, a biometric sensor, a transmitter, or a receiver, and would have a handy adviser in text, audio, or video form to assist users in getting their gestures just right.

According to the filing, the advisor could be configurable from appearance to accent, and could be displayed in holographic form. On top of that, the wand could track motion by creating a basic 3D model of its environment, then using a pair of cameras to determine the wand's orientation within that existing model.

Also of note are the Magic Wand's inventors. Among the listed names is J Allard, Microsoft's "chief experience officer" and chief technology officer for the Entertainment and Devices Division. Allard may be best known among gamers for managing the technical development of the original Xbox and serving as the public face of the company's console efforts until shortly after the Xbox 360 launch. Since then, he has remained largely out of sight while working on the Zune multimedia handheld, which Microsoft has promised will eventually support robust gaming functionality.

This article was originally posted on GameSpot.