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Remember from a while back we ran an article about a leak regarding the functionality of Kinect 2.0? That the device would be able to tell how many people are viewing content and that it was somewhat “always-on” for copyright protection purposes? Well, Microsoft has confirmed that Kinect 2.0 always listens...and some are concerned it's always watching, too.
While Microsoft has stated that the Xbox One itself will not require an always-on internet connection to play games, that may not mean that some features may not always be on, regardless. Polygon recently ran an article coming off the big reveal earlier today from Microsoft regarding their next generation home entertainment device, the Xbox One.
Talking with Microsoft's hardware program manager John Link, he was asked about the always-on functionality of Kinect and whether it would really keep a digital “eye” and “ear” on consumers. Link stated that...
"The Kinect has a variety of settings," ... "You know, it's always available to the system, so ... you can count, as an application developer or a game developer, [that] everyone's going to have a Kinect. You always have that stream available. And then, you know, there are settings, obviously, in the console to be able to change the settings of how your Kinect is used, if you're interested." … [Kinect will] "be just listening enough to know that, 'Hey, I heard something interesting. Somebody's probably trying to wake me up.' It sends it to the console for confirmation, and then it can really power up to that high-power state."
Eh, so how do you feel about that? As some of you know, the PlayStation 4 has similar functionality with the new and improved EyeToy and PS Move integration, enabling the low power state to work as a way for users to boot up the system on the fly, download content in low-latency mode or remote stream when you're not at home.
However, with all the low-power functionality also comes the concern of privacy. Thankfully, Polygon reached out to Microsoft to further ask about the potential for privacy breaching on consumers with Kinect 2.0, and here is what an Microsoft representative had to say...
"The new Kinect is listening for a specific cue, like 'Xbox on,'" the spokesperson said. "We know our customers want and expect strong privacy protections to be built into our products, devices and services, and for companies to be responsible stewards of their data. Microsoft has more than 10 years of experience making privacy a top priority. Kinect for Xbox 360 was designed and built with strong privacy protections in place and the new Kinect will continue this commitment."
Whether or not this is just PR talk – which, as we warned in the Top Misconceptions about the Gaming Industry, has nothing to do with consumers – or if Microsoft really doesn't care enough about copy protection to actually spy on you is still up for debate until we get our hands on the device or some place like Engadget can run it through some thorough testing first.
For now, we can look forward to more information about the games, products and services for the Xbox One come E3 next month during the beginning of June.