Is Kinect Reporting What It Sees To Advertisers?

Speaking at an investor's conference on Thursday, a Microsoft executive offered that Kinect not only knows how many are in the room when an ad's shown, but what kind of team colours they might be wearing. Uh-oh.

At the BMO Capital Markets forum, Dennis Durkin, the chief operating officer of Microsoft's Interactive Entertainment division, offered that if someone were watching a sporting event with Kinect on (for example, ESPN's new streaming service to the Xbox 360), Kinect could deduce what team they support based on what kind of jersey or colours they wore, and serve advertising tailored to that.

Digital Trends offers that it's not much different from how Facebook serves its ads, though in that case, there's something of an active opt-in (choosing to publicize your favourite films, food, sports teams, your alma mater, etc.) Durkin's example carries the implication that you don't know you're being watched - basically, studied - for marketing purposes. The results would be aggregated of course - charts and numbers, not a piece of raw video of you saved and stored somewhere - but it still sounds Orwellian.

Orwellian enough that when the Wall Street Journal mentioned it, Microsoft issued this statement:

Xbox 360 and Xbox Live do not use any information captured by Kinect for advertising targeting purposes. Microsoft has a strong track record of implementing some of the best privacy protection measures in the industry. We place great importance on the privacy of our customers' information and the safety of their experiences.

But if we're to take Durkin at his word, it means the capability is there, regardless of whether it's being used.

Kinect's Camera Could Record Data For Advertisers [DigitalTrends]


    Considering privacy settings are basically shoved in your face with the new dashboard (they're before the achievements in your profile), I'd say Microsoft are serious about assuring people of their privacy. Totally understandable given the "big brother is watching you" vibe that a camera brings.

    Big Brother is watching (1984, the book-Not that damned TV show!)

    All it takes is a report of a child being 'watched and monitored' by Kinect and advertisers and the whole thing will get squashed.

      Why would it? I mean, the TSA's radiation body scanning machines are still in place despite that it breaks almost every child porn law out there, not to mention the mass gropings of women and children (and sometimes, men) alike when they opt out of the scanner.

      Anyway, I saw this coming. People, this thing will probably be able to watch you when you think it is turned off (i.e. not in use), look at those school laptops that were issued out in the U.S. (and it probably does it here, too), so when you're finished playing with it, unplug the device from the machine. It's probably the only way to be sure.

        Sadly you're correct in that every technological advance that can be adapted for surveillance is ultimately used in that way, regardless of how we feel about it. Reminds me of the myth that switching off a cell phone prevents tracking. In reality, removing the battery is the only way to prevent tracking.

    The day I get Kinect is the day I stop watching TV without pants on.

      I had to start wearing them, as Kinect kept giving an error message that it was detecting three legs...

        yeah they need to work this out, I got the we dont have support for elephants error message.

          Funny... mine just laughed at me :(

            Man, that's nothing - a friend of mine got one and it actually pointed and started whispering stuff to the other consoles before they all started laughing..

            Apparently the Kinect is very descriptive. All i got out of him before he became an uncontrollable mess of tears was something about it being 'napoleanesque in statue'...

    Does anyone really sit at home watching a sporting game with that teams jersey on??? Really???

      That was exactly my thought too.

      And, frankly, if you are the kind of person who does... you should be monitored.

      I don't know about that, but I have a habit of changing into the tshirt of a concert I went to if I'm watching the DVD of it, brings back memories :P

      Not much of a sports fan I take it..

        You are actually spot on... I enjoy most sports but not a fan of a particular team etc.. so I don't get the mentality... Nor the practice of doing it at home in front of the TV?

        But more power to you if you get around in your team's gear, just asking...

      Wouldn't surprise me in the U.S...

      You mean you DON'T dress-up to watch TV? o.o

    I'll just fill the room with Sony and Nintendo stuff and see if I can get the Kinect to advertise a competitor

      Zing! Well played sir/madam, well played.

      Maybe leave the xbox on while you /play/ some Move/Wii, and see what happens.

    I honestly don't care about all this stuff. selling "private" information to advertisers ect.

    why not? If im gonna be advertised at, I'd rather it be something I might actually want! thats win, win!

    as long as companies get sued out of business the second they put a foot out of line, I don't see what the problem is.

      Lol there's one born every minute. I bet you also buy into the government talking point "If you have nothing to hide, there's no problem being spied on." If that's your position, hand me your keys & I'll check out your property later. ;)

    Big Brother WIN.

    Not only do people WANT to put the spy-cam in their livingroom, their willing to pay for it!!!

    (No-doubt sony are doing much the same with their eye)

    This is incredibly creepy. Don't know whether the 'kinect camera never turns off' thing is real though.

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