Consumer Reports fends off claims of Kinect being racist

Sensational headlines misleading, says advocacy publication

A mini-flurry of media buzz hit afterGameSpot posted a news article titled, "Kinect has problems recognizing dark-skinned users?" The reportclaims that"two dark-skinned GameSpot employees had problems getting the system's facial recognition features to work." Later on, it notes, "Lighter-skinned employees were... consistently picked up on the first try."

Once the internet picked up the story, reports of a "racist"Kinectbegan to spread.

Now Consumer Reports has stepped forward, dismissing GameSpot's story and suggesting that the employees probably just had it calibrated incorrectly or were in a low-light setting.

"Consumer Reports did not encounter this issue with the Kinect and facial recognition when we first tested it," wrote the consumer advocacy group in a blog post. The magazine put Kinect through the exact same test as GameSpot, with one black person standing next to a white person. "At no time did it recognize one player and not the other," wrote Consumer Reports.

After repeated updates and requests for clarification from Microsoft, GameSpot sticks by its observations, but its official stance on the issue is to "abstain" on the scope of the recognition problem, and whether or not skin color has anything to do with it.

Perhaps racist motion cameras only really exist in office sitcoms:

[Source: Consumer Reports]

Nov 5, 2010

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