Two tidbits of information have emerged worth noting about the upcoming Xbox One: First, the Kinect can spot out voices from a crowd, and it can identify and see you in the dark thanks to the movement and heat signature 3D camera. Secondly, Microsoft says not to worry.
Kotaku ran a detailed article about the privacy concerns surrounding the Kinect 2.0, which has already been confirmed to be always-on and always-listening.
Kotaku's piece aims to clarify some of the “tin foil hat” talk that sprouted up after German and Australian officials questioned Kinect as a possible surveillance device. Writer Stephen Totilo was recently told by the faceless media representatives now working as the talking head of Microsoft – following the company's shutdown of information after the massive public outcry following reports they deemed “inaccurate” and “incomplete” – saying that Kinect...
"Yes, you can turn the system completely off," the Microsoft rep said. "This would use no power and turn everything off. We’ll share more details about how it all works later."
That's a PR spin response not quite at its finest. Still, we'll leave that little piece there and move on to the other bits that Microsoft discusses regarding your privacy options and Hal 2.0, powered by the Orwellian Surveillance Processor, also known as the 1984 APU. According to faceless MS rep #451...
“We are designing the new Kinect with simple, easy methods to customize privacy settings, provide clear notifications and meaningful privacy choices for how data will be used, stored and shared,”
That's technically no different than what Microsoft's hardware manager, John Link, mentioned a week ago to Polygon, when talking about the always-on capabilities of the Kinect and the different privacy and power states of the device. It's just used in a slightly different manner.
That's not to mention that both John Link and Phil Harrison have stated multiple times that Kinect 2.0 is collecting data and information on users, though both have failed to clarify how the data will be used or why it's collecting data in the first place.
For those who don't know, there are some frightening features of the Kinect 2.0, including the ability to spot out heat signatures and movement in a dark room, though that's just an improvement over the standard 3D camera functions of the original Kinect, which has similar features that make it a very viable option for 3D motion-capture performances in middleware toolsets such as iPi Soft.
In addition to the above, spotting out voices and always being on in low-power mode are things that have been detailed in a patent filing from quite some time ago, first popping up when Kinect 2.0 was reported to be used for copyright infringement prevention. These features were also somewhat verified by sources according to a report by MCVUK.
Microsoft has still not clarified, even with faceless PR reps, further details regarding Kinect 2.0. While they claim that the device can be disabled and turned off and that the Xbox One has a power button, they never clarify if games, movies, apps or other services can be used apart from Kinect.
As it stands, the initial reports have already verified that you cannot use the Xbox One without Kinect 2.0 and the device must be plugged in and turned on in order for the console itself to function, as indicated in a report by Gamespot when they talked face to face with Microsoft's own vice president, Phil Harrison.
Microsoft claims all your questions will be answered at E3 in two weeks.