Microsoft patent application shows parental controls based on body size

Microsoft's Kinect motion controller camera for the Xbox 360 game console can detect relatively simple motions and shapes generated by people in a room. But in a newly revealed patent application with the US Patent and Trademark Office, via GeekWire, Microsoft is proposing that a 3D camera similar to the Kinect could be used to figure out the size of the people it sees in the room. Once it has that info, the camera could be used to identify the age of each person in that location.

A Kinect-like camera with such a feature would be helpful to parents who might be afraid that their kids could watch a movie or TV show or play a game that has adult-rated content. If a parent is watching, for example, The Walking Dead and then a child enters the room, the sensor could "see" that and then automatically switch the content shown on the TV screen to, say, iCarly. Of course the parent would have the power to go ahead and override the settings if they feel that their kids can watch a more mature-themed movie or play a "T" or even an "M" rated game.

As with all patent applications, there's no word if Microsoft is planning to offer this kind of technology in the near future. However, the Kinect camera sensor has been a big hit for the Xbox 360 and even PC users, with the official Kinect SDK, have been using the device. It's more than possible that Microsoft could develop an advanced version of the Kinect camera that would add these kinds of body and age detecting features.

[Update] Title update for clarity.

Report a problem with article
Previous Story

Sony Ericsson is "curious about Windows Phone"

Next Story

Apple's next iPhone: The pre-reveal roundup

32 Comments

Commenting is disabled on this article.

When this gets approved, I will say another "HA" to all the haters.
I personally like the idea and think it will work for the majority.

Many of your examples above are plain silly.
It's not about detecting an exact age, it's an age range.
It's also just another layer of parental control, not the be all and end all. It just makes it easier and much quicker to turn off the adult content when a young person enters the room rather than attempting it in haste using a remote or if you've left the room.

I actually don't know anyone that uses parental control on anything, but can see how it would be good with young children only. In most cases you will be able to identify a 15- child by their size.

Adults that are small can be scanned in to be remembered, which is the most likely.
Disproportional dwarfish would be easy to bypass as body parts are not proportional to the remainder of the body. The biggest problem would be for proportional dwarfism (midgets is an offensive term thanks to the PC people out there). But again this would be a very minute (pardon the pun) minority. And most likely this feature would be disabled by small people that are adults.

LOL my friend is 5'3 and 23 years old but he's just Vietnamese and short. I linked him to this article saying "your going to be detected as a little boy!" xD

svnO.o said,
LOL my friend is 5'3 and 23 years old but he's just Vietnamese and short. I linked him to this article saying "your going to be detected as a little boy!" xD
Yes, I can see this being either embarrassing or flattering for some people.
The TV turning the program to Barney, when a short adult comes! Or to Child's Play when a big kid comes to the room!

If this would serve as a security measure in addition to face recognition and password, I think measuring the body proportions and overall height is a good idea. I can never have enough security.
On it's own it's surely highly unreliable and should not be commended.

cralias said,
If this would serve as a security measure in addition to face recognition and password, I think measuring the body proportions and overall height is a good idea. I can never have enough security.
On it's own it's surely highly unreliable and should not be commended.

The kids could just unplug the kinect.... But what games as well, are out there that the kids couldn't play on Kinect? All their games are for the young ones.

shakey said,

The kids could just unplug the kinect.... But what games as well, are out there that the kids couldn't play on Kinect? All their games are for the young ones.

Don't underestimate childishness of some otherwise adult people. Take boxing, for example. Except then neighbors sometimes call police, but hey

shakey said,

The kids could just unplug the kinect.... But what games as well, are out there that the kids couldn't play on Kinect? All their games are for the young ones.

You do realize that Kinect is part of the xbox, not part of the Games. so the xbox can use the kinect to verify you and give you access or not, to non kinect games, and if you unplug it, well, no access to games above a certain age rating unless you put in a password to verify your age.

and since it's kinect , not only can it verify who you are by body biometrics (a highly accurate tool to identify age of non mature people, but also a highly accurate tool for identifying individual people, read up on the science before you go on about stuff you don't understand) but it also has voice recognition and face recognition. It's almost as ifMS is a SOFTWARE studio with lots of experience who actually know what they're doing...

Damn Microsoft, you dumb!
WTH are they thinking with this.... Many people will have this idea go wrong for them. Just something that seems like a utter waste of time, money, and resources to even get into.
Next up, Microsoft judges what shows you may like based off of your skin color!

billyea said,
Yes, but can they recognize children on stilts?

Good question! That would be a hilarious workaround if not.

Poor midgets are going to be stuck playing Kinectimals.

Maybe they should just ask people their age and ask them to be honest. I can see that working better tbh.

TRC said,
This is dumb, you can't reliable determine age from size.

Yes, you can, anthropologists do it regularly.

You don't measure the height of an animal and say "oh, it was 12 years old", you measure the relative sizes of various parts of the body: those develop at differing rates depending on age and allow you to slot people into age ranges (0-1, 1-2,3-4…8-10, 10-12, etc).

If only Microsoft knew about that technique - they could have added it to their patent and avoided looking stupid. Wait…that's on the first page? Damnit! I guess you couldn't waste time reading the content of the patent before getting your "bash post" up.

You can't say "This person was born December 12, 1823" but you can say "this person is somewhere between 10 and 12 years old: clearly not authorized to be ordering pay-per-view movies with a credit card" It works reasonable well into maturity at which point you need more complicated age-determining method (teeth rings work well) which probably aren't viable.

Furthermore, it's much easier to identify one person out of half a dozen based on their measurements. Maybe if parents could say "this is my daughter, she's 8 years old", "this is my son, he's 10" then the system wouldn't be guessing ages, but rather names based on profiles. That's a much easier problem to solve…I wonder if that's in the profile? Damn second page? Well hells bells, these Microsoft science guys are crafty buggers, aren't they?

You do realize that unlike most animals, humans come in many many different shapes and sizes. You can't tell the age of anyone by height alone. And it is stupid to say you can.

shakey said,
You do realize that unlike most animals, humans come in many many different shapes and sizes. You can't tell the age of anyone by height alone. And it is stupid to say you can.

Reread his post, his last paragraph would deal with that

Sraf said,

Reread his post, his last paragraph would deal with that

Human beings are animals. The principal that works on elephants, dogs, and pigeons works just as well on us.

Case in point: if I showed you a 2m long infant you don't say "there goes a 40 year old lawyer" you say "holy crap, look at the giant baby!"

The basic reasoning is the same all the way through maturity.

Height relative to skull size is a pretty good way to identify the rough age of a child during the first couple of years of life.

Sraf said,

Reread his post, his last paragraph would deal with that

Which would maybe work for about half a year, until the kids grow another few inches. Also, what if their mom is the same height and weight as the son? There are easier ways of parents controlling what the kids can and can not do. This is just them doing something for the sake of, " Look what we can do." It doesn't mean that it is a good idea just because it can be done.

shakey said,

Which would maybe work for about half a year, until the kids grow another few inches. Also, what if their mom is the same height and weight as the son? There are easier ways of parents controlling what the kids can and can not do. This is just them doing something for the sake of, " Look what we can do." It doesn't mean that it is a good idea just because it can be done.

It's not just about the Height and Weight Kinect can recognize

relative size of a head of the body,
a ratio of arm length to body height,
a ratio of body height to head height,
Ratio of head width to shoulder width

etc;

Researchers outside MS and within MS have studied them extensively. Which enables them to make a reasonably accurate guess about a human's age.
Just because you don't know these things doesn't make the People who do Stupid.

Also it's not like this is going into production today. A patent is an initial concept ;practical problems in the implementation will be solved going ahead.

Again please Read the patent

shakey said,

Which would maybe work for about half a year, until the kids grow.

If only there was some way to update information in a computer. You clever little man, you've found not one but two flaws!

I admire your commitment to remaining ignorant of the details here. I often find getting a more in depth understanding of a story nearly irresistible, especially when the links to more information are so obvious but you hold strong in the face of knowledge. Let nothing divert you from your banal comments you nobel internet crusader!

evn. said,

If only there was some way to update information in a computer. You clever little man, you've found not one but two flaws!

I admire your commitment to remaining ignorant of the details here. I often find getting a more in depth understanding of a story nearly irresistible, especially when the links to more information are so obvious but you hold strong in the face of knowledge. Let nothing divert you from your banal comments you nobel internet crusader!

Just ignore him, if this was a Sony patent it would have been awesomesauce

I can see it now. Fat kids log on to play Halo/CoD, instead are only allowed to play fitness games....love it!

What about midget parents? The kids could be taller than the parents, and then... the kids are in control! Or how about the fact that most women are smaller? Does this mean that mothers can't use parental controls for their often larger sons (over age 12)? I see ways this can be defeated by "Average size" people as well. Kids are clever, they will defeat it. They are like little hackers.

Spirit Dave said,
What if you're a dwarf?! This is the stupidest idea ... lol. It won't go into production for theses reasons.
Because everyone is a dwarf. And there will certainly be no way of disabling it.

Spirit Dave said,
What if you're a dwarf?! This is the stupidest idea ... lol. It won't go into production for theses reasons.

What makes you think that the system would be used on its own, instead of with some of the other features of Kinect such as Facial recognition?

Spirit Dave said,
What if you're a dwarf?! This is the stupidest idea ... lol. It won't go into production for theses reasons.

If you read how the system works then you'd know dwarfism would actually improve it's ability to get your age.

well this could end up going horribly wrong, My wife is about the same size as a high schooler., in fact she is mistaken for one all the time.

littleneutrino said,
well this could end up going horribly wrong, My wife is about the same size as a high schooler., in fact she is mistaken for one all the time.

They could also pair it with the existing Kinect facial recognition function, in order to bypass that issue. This seems like it might be more for unregistered users, or maybe crafty little buggers who are trying to pull one over on the facial recognition software (like using a mask or something, the system would see your face for example, but on a body that does not match yours in height or size)