When the Xbox One was announced back in in May, there was a lot of anxiety surrounding the console's DRM policies and an always online (at the time, required) Kinect. Having a sensor that can see and hear a living room at all times was a source of a lot of apprehension for players. Since then, after a slew of policy changes and reversals, the console is looking very different from a feature standpoint.
That being the case, NeoGAF forum users wanted to know a little bit more about Microsoft's advertising system, NuAds, and its link with Kinect. Microsoft's Director of Product Planning, Albert Penello, stepped up to alleviate fears.
Penello references an interview earlier in the year that said the mandatory Kinect 'could' be used to read your expressions to help advertisers. Penello started by saying that to his knowledge "nobody is working on that." He then continued by saying that if something like this was implemented in the future, "you can be sure it wouldn't happen without the user having control over it. Period." Microsoft has always said that their key concern is user privacy, but reiterating again could go a long way.
Fans should feel relief that the Xbox One won't have an advertising system that could forcefully be used to realize nefarious motives. By placing the advertising in the user's hands, it'll be a relief for many that their private details and images will be protected. To further highlight this, Penello draws on two examples of how Microsoft are trying to protect their user base. Due to the Kinect's ability to recognize a player's face, that information could be stored in the Cloud so they can be recognized at any console. But due to the risk this could pose to users, Microsoft has actively kept facial recognition tied to the console hardware.
Penello further outlines Microsoft's commitment to their user-bases' privacy with some of it's Skype functionality.
"You'll see us do some things around Skype that freezes the video when Skype is not in focus (meaning, it's not the primary app). If you go back to the home screen, or launch another app, we actually stop the video stream. We do this so the user can't even ACCIDENTALLY have the video stream going on in the background."
By making sure that no unauthorized video feed is being broadcast, no imagery or date of users or their living space will go out without their knowledge. The Kinect is a complicated piece of technology that brings with it a bunch of privacy complications. Microsoft has their work cut out to make sure that user privacy is maintained and unexploited.
Do you think Microsoft are being transparent? Do you now feel safer that the Kinect isn't always on and Microsoft are taking further steps to protect privacy? Were you ever seriously worried?
The Xbox One releases November 22, 2013.