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

Published 1 year ago by

Xbox One Kinect Privacy

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

TAGS: Kinect, Microsoft, Xbox One

  • Justin

    If it has to be connected then they’ve lost a customer. Sony, I’m coming back.

  • Shalkowski

    So you’re telling me that you can turn it off but it still has to always be connected? Something doesn’t seem right here..

  • ThetaSigma

    Still gonna put a post-it over the camera.

  • paul m

    the only way MS will get me to buy a xbo now, is if the the games are photo realistic.
    so i wont be buying an xbo.

  • xxravenstarxx

    No way will I EVER allow a camera into my home that can spy on me and send video over the internet! Says the guy with a front facing camera on his smartphone and integrated web cam on his computer. Derp.

  • trex4u

    So what you’re saying is, that it can be turned off, but even while its off it can still hear the “X-BOX On” command? If it is on enough to be able to pick that sentence up, then its also on enough to hear anything else I say.

  • Andrew

    Would suck if you have a cold and can’t talk, or are a mute. Then you can’t take advantage of saying turn me on I mean Xbox On. If someone says put the Xbox On…pause…the shelf this thing would probably turn on.

  • The_Philosopher

    Anything recorded by the Kinect 2.0 can be subpoenaed and be used against you in court.

    Yeah, it just got real.


    • The_Philosopher

      Enjoy that NSA and Microsoft spyBoxONE deal.

  • VyxinKitty

    I will NOT be buying an xbox one. From the moment I heard the camera would have to be on, it can record, be voice activated. It was a MASSIVE no-no. If people can have their computers hacked into, what’s not to say that someone won’t get smart and hack into this system. You have your system in the bedroom, who’s to say that this smart person can’t view your everyday personal life. Your conversations. Im sorry, I will NOT buy this system… EVER, no matter if I am guaranteed the camera can be put in “off-mode”. Call me paranoid, but I like my privacy. I like being able to have a console in my house with no mic, no camera, and when its off, I know its off. I will stick to my xbox slim, and my ps3 and Im not against going strictly pc and ps3 platform gaming. Wii also would be nice too :) Enjoy the new system to those who do get it!

  • game head