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E3 2017: LucidSound co-founder talks Xbox, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi Direct, and the new LS35X at E3 2017

Yesterday, we spotted an interesting detail on the official Xbox One X product page: a reference to the console being “Bluetooth enabled.” However, that detail turned out to be a marketing error and not a new feature of the latest Xbox, much to the disappointment of some of our readers and commenters over on Reddit.

Instead of Bluetooth, Microsoft uses, and has used since the first Xbox, another technology it calls “Wi-Fi Direct.” Xbox wireless controllers, headsets, and keyboards all use the technology, and last month a company called LucidSound announced the first third party headset to connect wirelessly to Xbox. They’re here at E3 2017, and I was able to chat with LucidSound’s Head of Product Aaron Smith about Bluetooth,Wi-Fi Direct, and Xbox.

LucidSound LS35X with Xbox Wi-Fi Direct is coming this holiday season

LucidSound LS35X with Xbox Wi-Fi Direct is coming this holiday season

Smith was one of the co-founders of Tritton Technologies, who made gaming headsets and were acquired by Mad Catz Interactive in 2010. The founders have re-emerged to create LucidSound, and will be launching the LS35x gaming headset with direct connectivity to Xbox and Windows 10 devices with Wi-Fi Direct this holiday season, and an LS15X Wireless Surround Sound In-Ear Contour Gaming Headset sometime after that.

LucidSound LS15X surround sound headet

The LS15X Surround Sound Headset will have Xbox Wi-Fi Direct

The company approached Microsoft about licensing their Wi-Fi Direct technology last year, but were told that the company wasn’t taking any new partners. However, Microsoft came back to them after a month, since they had worked with Tritton in the past, and liked the work they are doing with LucidSound. So after being told it wasn’t possible, LucidSound now is licensed to use the Wi-Fi Direct technology.

According to Smith, there are a number of technical hurdles to building a headset that would support both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi Direct, including dueling wireless radios and other issues, so these current LucidSound devices will work just with Wi-Fi Direct.

Smith said that Microsoft has been great to work with, supporting them both technically and by promoting them, including an appearance with Major Nelson on Xbox Daily: E3 Live.

Microsoft is committed to compatibility across the Xbox family, and won’t be switching to Bluetooth anytime soon, Smith said, as that would break compatibility with older Xbox controllers and peripherals. The Wi-Fi Direct headsets will work across all Xbox consoles, as well as on Windows 10 devices either with built in Wi-Fi Direct chips, or by using an Xbox Wireless Adapter for Windows.

So for now, Microsoft’s Xbox family will continue to use Wi-Fi Direct, but it’s good to see the technology opened up to third parties, at least a little. As to why Microsoft included the “Bluetooth Enabled” mention in the first place, or when/if Bluetooth will ever reach an Xbox console, well that remains to be seen.

What do you think, should Microsoft continue to support all Xbox consoles by using Wi-Fi Direct, or should it move on to the more standard Bluetooth?

 

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Is backward compatibility more important to you than Bluetooth support?