Microsoft’s new Xbox game console is expected to arrive in the later part of this year. Although the name of the console is as yet unconfirmed, many have taken to calling it Xbox 720, which kind of makes sense. Now, hints from developers and Microsoft’s patents suggest that the console will ship with Kinect which will be ‘watching’ you at all times.
The idea here is not novel. Rather, it has been discussed and debated for a long while. Vendors of entertainment-display hardware want to be able to keep tabs on the users, their behaviors, gender, age and other details so that they can allow the advertisers to push out more regulated and specific ads to them. It sounds enticing indeed – when better to watch an ad about Lays when having a mouthful of them during a soccer match, right?
However, it brings a whole host of privacy concerns with it. Apparently, Xbox 720 will require you to have Kinect plugged into it at all times, so that the motion sensor’s camera can ‘watch’ you. In other words, you will be constantly vulnerable to a camera which would discern your entire TV-room lifestyle and push out ads accordingly.
One particular patent which speaks about ‘content presentation system and method’ on a prospective console, sounds scary. It talks about regulating the presentation of content on a per-user-view basis. According to Microsoft, the system will ensure that ‘the users consuming the content on a display device are monitored so that if the number of user-views licensed is exceeded, remedial action may be taken.’
Whether or not Microsoft decides to include this technology in the upcoming Xbox 720, or Durango, remains to be seen. However, hints from developers who seem to have received the ‘Durango’ units suggest that the company may indeed implement such a feature in its new game console.