Earlier this year, interviews with various Microsoft representatives brought to light the potential use of the new Kinect for gauging user interest in various advertisements.
The device ‘could’ be used for monitoring user expressions as they watched TV, or engaged in some other activity using the Xbox One. The mandatory, always-connected device became much cause of concern for most as such a use for the Kinect would get in the way of user privacy.
Albert Penello, Director of Product Planning at MS decided to respond directly to consumer concerns regarding privacy and the company’s new ads system; NuAds, today. Penello started his address with the statement that “nobody is working on that” as far as he knew, referring to the use of Kinect as a surveillance device.
Users can “be sure” that if something of the sort was implemented, it would be entirely opt-in and users will have complete control over it. He then went on to re-emphasize how user privacy was their primary objective.
To reinforce his assurance that the Kinect’s features will not forcefully be used to further corporate motives, and that the consumers’ privacy is the focal point, Penello pin-pointed Skype functionality for Xbox One:
“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.”
The Kinect won’t always be on and will never broadcast a video feed or upload any private data; to Microsoft’s own servers or to any other server for that matter, without the user’s explicit permission.
Has Albert Penello been able to alleviate your concerns regarding the Kinect and your privacy, or did you never have any to begin with? Share your opinions with us.