Responding to worries that an always-on Kinect sensor recording camera and audio information would be a threat to user privacy, Microsoft offers a simple solution: the ability to turn the Kinect off.
You are in control of the Kinect, not the other way around. That's the message Microsoft is trying to get across in "Privacy by Design: How Xbox One and the New Kinect Sensor Put You in Control." The damage-controlling article explains that while the Xbox One functions better with Kinect enabled, it doesn't have to be that way.
Unless utilising a game or feature that requires the sensor, Kinect can be paused. When not using your Xbox One, it can be turned off with a simple "Xbox Off" voice command. In off mode, the system listens for "Xbox On", and that's it — and even that functionality can be disabled.
And hey, just because using the Kinect is incredibly convenient and fun and awesome and you should totally do it, you can use your stupid old controller or a remote instead.
I don't know about you guys, but my fears are assuaged.
Here are all the soothing bullet points.
- You are in control of what Kinect can see and hear: By design, you will determine how responsive and personalised your Xbox One is to you and your family during setup. The system will navigate you through key privacy options, like automatic or manual sign in, privacy settings, and clear notifications about how data is used. When Xbox One is on and you’re simply having a conversation in your living room, your conversation is not being recorded or uploaded.
- You are in control of when Kinect sensing is On, Off or Paused: If you don’t want the Kinect sensor on while playing games or enjoying your entertainment, you can pause Kinect. To turn off your Xbox One, just say “Xbox Off.” When the system is off, it’s only listening for the single voice command — “Xbox On,” and you can even turn that feature off too. Some apps and games may require Kinect functionality to operate, so you’ll need to turn it back on for these experiences.
- You are in control of your personal data: You can play games or enjoy applications that use data, such as videos, photos, facial expressions, heart rate and more, but this data will not leave your Xbox One without your explicit permission. Here are a few examples of potential future scenarios:
- A fitness game could measure heart rate data to provide you with improved feedback on your workout, allow you to track your progress, or even measure calories burned.
- A card game could allow you to bluff your virtual opponent using your facial expressions.
- You can use other inputs to control your games, TV and entertainment experiences: While it’s faster to find what you’re looking for using your voice and gesture commands with Kinect, you can use a controller, your remote controls or your smart devices instead. And you can use all of these devices when Kinect is paused.