Imagine having a web capable device able to recognize and translate motion and sound; with microphones and software so sensitive it can distinguish one person from another - and so long as it’s always on, it’s always watching… always listening. 'Not to worry' says Alex Kipman, director of Kinect Technology. "By default we don't listen or look at anything. No data is ever sent back to Microsoft. Period. Full stop."
Issues regarding privacy do not surprise Kipman at all; from airport body scanners to Facebook foursquare, consumers are growing increasingly concerned about unwittingly surrendering their privacy just to enjoy technological advancements. Kinect, itself, can analyze the topography of a room, even recognize individual facial features if set correctly. However Microsoft assures us that you are not activating what is essentially an audio/video security camera every time you turn on your Xbox.
Kipman states that users will have the option to send some data to Microsoft. "In some cases it will take some depth data but that depth data will be in a way we can't tell facial features or living room features." Furthermore, certain voice or gesture data may be sent for troubleshooting purposes. "We have a ton of infrastructure in the cloud to anonymize [sic] it," Kipman assures us.
While we don’t doubt Microsoft’s sincerity, we cannot help but wonder what the future holds for visual gameplay. At the very least we might get an interesting episode of CSI. Or, more likely, a completely naïve one.
Nov 4, 2010