Xbox One: Microsoft Explains Kinect Privacy Features, Device Can Be Turned Off

By | 2 years ago 

Believe it or not, on the same day that Microsoft revealed some very disappointing news regarding used games support on the Xbox One, they also announced something positive as it pertains to Kinect. While Microsoft’s used game policy followed along with our expectations, their position on privacy and Kinect did not.

Up until last month, most gamers didn’t even think privacy would be an issue with Kinect 2.0, but after Microsoft revealed the Xbox One requires the device to function, talk of privacy violations soon followed. Then came rumors that Microsoft would use the Kinect as a form of visual DRM, to monitor whether gamers were abiding by their license agreements. Needless to say, there were just as many questions regarding Kinect as there were regarding used games.

But, as it turns out, the Kinect can be turned off completely, and it will also not record or transmit any data without first obtaining permission. Even in its “off state” the Kinect will only be listening for one command: “Xbox on.”

It starts with the personalization of Kinect, which Microsoft says will include establishing sign in settings and customizing your privacy control. There will also be clear notifications as to how players’ data will be used. And most importantly “when Xbox One is on and you’re simply having a conversation in your living room, your conversation is not being recorded or uploaded.”

Perhaps the Kinect’s most important features are its On, Off, and Pause options. If a gamer does not want their Kinect sensor on while gaming or watching a movie they can pause Kinect, which presumably turns the mic and camera off. And, when the Xbox One is off, Kinect will (allegedly) be listening for the “Xbox On” command and nothing else.

Xbox One Kinect Visual DRM

Also, as was touched upon briefly during the Xbox One presentation, Kinect will be able to record video, take photos, monitor your heart rate, and register your facial expressions. However, any data collected by Kinect will not leave the Xbox One without the gamer’s explicit permission.

There are certainly some experiences where that would be useful — fitness games, uploading to Facebook, making a video call — but Microsoft promises players will be notified anytime the Kinect is transmitting anything.

So, while used games become an even bigger hot button issue, concerns about privacy and visual DRM appear to be calmed…for now. That being said, we won’t know for sure how trustworthy these claims are until the Xbox One is in our homes.

Do you believe Microsoft when they say Kinect will not be monitoring you without your permission? Do you see the Kinect as a useful tool for the Xbox One?

Microsoft’s Xbox One will be available later this year.

Source: Major Nelson