In Microsoft patent, Kinect watches you

Except for all that stuff they hate even more, there’s nothing Hollywood hates worse than the fact that you can share a movie you paid for with your family without paying again. That’s why Microsoft has filed a new patent to make sure no one gets to watch something they haven’t paid for by turning Kinect into a living room spying device.

Alright, so it’s not quite 1984, but it’s still disturbing for other reasons. Here’s the abstract, via the US Patent & Trademark Office:

A content presentation system and method allowing content providers to regulate the presentation of content on a per-user-view basis. Content is distributed an associated license option on the number of individual consumers or viewers allowed to consume the content. Consumers are presented with a content selection and a choice of licenses allowing consumption of the content. The users consuming the content on a display device are monitored so that if the number of user-views licensed is exceeded, remedial action may be taken.

In plain English, that means that you’ll be paying more depending on how many people are watching the content. As disturbing as that is, there’s more here. Gizmodo seems to be worried that Microsoft could use facial recognition described in the patent to regulate content based on how it perceives the user’s age, but we’re not so sure about that.

The patent does mention something called ‘processing unit 191,’ and says that it could be used for ‘executing object, facial, and voice recognition algorithms,’ but there’s no mention of actually monitoring the user’s age, and really doesn’t seem all that nefarious. Unlocking a computer based on facial recognition or a certain object (computer keys, anyone?) actually sounds pretty cool.

At any rate, while there are some intriguing hints about the future of Kinect in the patent, we really, really don’t want to live in a world where our TV becomes Hollywood’s new content police. We’ve got enough of that already and frankly, it’s getting pretty tiresome. You hear us, Microsoft?

Source: US Patent Office | Via TechEye

Big Brother Image by Shutterstock

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27 Comments

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IR-radar is wonderful! You can't even prop a phone with a looping video in front of the kinect or a simple photo! It'll know. This is why I like to watch video on things that don't take video. laptop, xbox, ipad, smartphone don't cut it compared to the rPi

Cover up your Kinect. If its included in the next Xbox, cover it up. And no, Microsoft cannot say you must use your Xbox in a lit living room. The lawsuits would be endless.

Tartan said,
yup aim it a photo, job done!

Except for the IR distancing technology knowing a photo is 2 inches in front of it.. or there are 5 distinct IR-radar paths for bodies in the room...

LUTZIFER said,
I'm pretty sure that'd be invasion of privacy. I can't see that being passed.

You sign up for it and its fine. The only way it'd be illegal is if they were doing it secretly. Just bury it in the ToS and its a-okay.

THolman said,

You sign up for it and its fine. The only way it'd be illegal is if they were doing it secretly. Just bury it in the ToS and its a-okay.


OK ... if you buy the device.... I foresee a return of DVDs here......

Way to go ms for screwing yourselves over with this stupidity. This will only cause more piracy and users will avoid this garbage which limits a user. I for one, think that this move is wrong.

ahhell said,
It's a patent. It doesn't mean a damn thing.

Y'know, if anyone's gonna patent-troll, I say all MS has to do is sit on this patent to preventing others from implementing the idea.

tsupersonic said,
So, just cover your kinect, or unplug it?

Sounds like an easy solution until you think about it, they can code it up so it has to be plugged in and able to "see" or the content wont play.

exotoxic said,

Sounds like an easy solution until you think about it, they can code it up so it has to be plugged in and able to "see" or the content wont play.

just print out a photo of one person sitting on a sofa and then the camera sees that, you can have 50 people watch the film as the camera still thinks only 1 person is sitting on the sofa!

HAHAHAHA! Microsoft will then alert the Feds if you do something naughty. Think of that being a real concern!

NeoPogo said,
HAHAHAHA! Microsoft will then alert the Feds if you do something naughty. Think of that being a real concern!

more like the Fed's will want warrentless access and wholesale data rates to all the kinect information from customers

LAMj said,
don't buy a kinect?
There's rumours that it'll be actually inside the next Xbox console, though I find that quite hard to believe TBH.

However Microsoft can get money, they will, it's the same with everything. This is just another way at the end of the day. Not saying it's right, it's terrible.

LAMj said,
don't buy a kinect?

No Kinect, no movie for you.

You could possibly circumvent it by pointing the Kinect at just one person