The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Microsoft has purchased R2 Studios, a home automation technology startup. According to unnamed people "familiar with the matter," the company will become part of Microsoft's Xbox unit. The cost of the acquisition has not been revealed.
R2 Studios, fully named id8 Group R2 Studios, was founded by Blake Krikorian, the co-inventor of the Slingbox. The company is reportedly working on solutions for integrating media and home automation technology. The company holds some patents related to its goals, and the Journal reports that Microsoft has also purchased the patents.
A previous report in mid-December 2012 held that Google and Apple were also interested in R2 Studios and its technology. Judging by Google's failed Nexus Q, Microsoft's Smartglass, and Apple's still-rumored HDTV, technology companies are searching desperately for a way to move into consumers' living rooms and beyond.
By acquiring such a company for its Xbox division, Microsoft is demonstrating more than ever that it expects its next-generation Xbox console to be at the center of an integrated living room (or home) multimedia experience. Just this week Xbox evangelist Larry "Major Nelson" Hyrb posted a countdown to Microsoft's big E3 conference announcement. It's expected that the next Xbox console will be unveiled at that time, which would fit with rumors that suggest the console will be released in time for the 2013 holiday season.