At the E3 conference in LA overnight, Microsoft unveiled the next big development for Xbox gaming. Dubbed SmartGlass, it lets you interact with your games using your phone or tablet while you button mash your way to glory.

It works like this: Developers program SmartGlass connectivity into their game. Then, using the dedicated SmartGlass app while playing the game, you’ll have access to a whole bunch of supplemental information to enhance your playing experience. Things like maps can be displayed on your tablet while you navigate a massive RPG world, or you can draw out plays in an NFL game and watch it come to life on the big screen.

The idea isn’t limited to just games, either. At the event, Microsoft demonstrated the idea working during an episode of Game of Thrones, with the tablet or phone showing a map of Westeros with the key locations of the scene displayed.

Perhaps the most impressive element of this idea is that Microsoft aren’t locking it to Windows only devices. Even though it will work on Windows Phones and Windows 8 tablets, it will also support the iPhone and iPad, as well as Android tablets and phones. Both Sony and Nintendo have played with similar ideas, but both required dedicated hardware (the Vita and the Wii U, respectively) to work. Microsoft’s implementation will work with the hardware you already own.

SmartGlass is set to launch later this year, but how it’s implemented in games is largely yet to be seen as it will rely on individual developers using their imagination. Still, it’s a nice and innovative way to squeeze a few more years out of the console.

Web: Microsoft