Kinect Cameras Are Allegedly Being Used To Spy On You

Newark Liberty International Airport might make you question if your reality is not just a game. How? By using Xbox Kinect motion controllers for surveillance. Jason Scott, a video game historian, and archivist was at Newark International airport recently. There he tweeted pictures that allegedly show Kinect devices being used to observe the crowds in the airport. The sensors are connected to a long arm that stretches out over the terminal from suspended monitor screens

A second zoomed-in picture. It shows that on the top left corner of the camera unit, there still is the Xbox logo.

The Kinect was released in 2010 by Xbox as a competitor to Nintendo’s Wii and PlayStation’s Move. This was when motion-sensing controllers seemed to be the next step in gaming. However, Microsoft and Sony’s motion controllers didn’t prove to be popular and Wii only managed to be popular for some games.

But Microsoft hadn’t banked on that initially. They had put significant effort into making the Kinect an essential feature. Indeed, when the Xbox one was released, there was much furor. This was over the fact that voice commands through Kinect could be given. And the fact that the camera on Kinect could be used for streaming. Gamers worried that this would mean Microsoft spying on them.

Because of this backlash, Microsoft gradually decreased using Kinect for video games and eventually stopped altogether. With the release of the Xbox One S, there was no port for Kinect. It was discontinued in 2017. A separate adaptor that allowed users to use it on the Xbox One S and One X  was discontinued in 2018.

Then it seemed as if Microsoft started using Kinect for private enterprise. In 2018 Microsoft announced Project Kinect for Azure. This used the camera and sensor in conjunction with Microsoft Azure cloud services.

Kinect House Monitor is on Microsoft’s Canadian website that can use its camera as a home security device. But it only has a one-star rating.

Seems like gamers were right when they worried about Kinect being used to spy on them. The way they would be used to spy on them, however, was not what was expected.  Stay vigilant, Master Chief.