For the next generation of consoles and even technology, privacy will be a huge concern for a lot of consumers. Whether it’s purchasing a new laptop with a webcam or an Xbox One with their new version of the Kinect, we will want to know what’s on when and how it’s working when we’re not around. Microsoft has already been called out on the concerns consumers and developers have with their Kinect being an “always on” device, but Microsoft has today provided a bit more information to hopefully quell those fears.
The privacy settings on the Kinect have been officially released by Microsoft on their official Xbox One page entitled, “Privacy by Design”. The page discusses the importance of a user’s autonomy and changes any consumer can make with the Xbox One to suit their own level of privacy. This could include turning on certain commands or giving the Kinect particular abilities while performing functions.
Here are a few functions taken directly from Microsoft’s site.
- You are in control of what Kinect can see and hear: By design, you will determine how responsive and personalized your Xbox One is to you and your family during setup. The system will navigate you through key privacy options, like automatic or manual sign in, privacy settings, and clear notifications about how data is used. When Xbox One is on and you’re simply having a conversation in your living room, your conversation is not being recorded or uploaded.
- You are in control of when Kinect sensing is On, Off or Paused: If you don’t want the Kinect sensor on while playing games or enjoying your entertainment, you can pause Kinect. To turn off your Xbox One, just say “Xbox Off.” When the system is off, it’s only listening for the single voice command — “Xbox On,” and you can even turn that feature off too. Some apps and games may require Kinect functionality to operate, so you’ll need to turn it back on for these experiences.
- You can use other inputs to control your games, TV and entertainment experiences: While it’s faster to find what you’re looking for using your voice and gesture commands with Kinect, you can use a controller, your remote controls or your smart devices instead. And you can use all of these devices when Kinect is paused.
- You are in control of your personal data: You can play games or enjoy applications that use data, such as videos, photos, facial expressions, heart rate and more, but this data will not leave your Xbox One without your explicit permission. Here are a few examples of potential future scenarios:
- A fitness game could measure heart rate data to provide you with improved feedback on your workout, allow you to track your progress, or even measure calories burned.
- A card game could allow you to bluff your virtual opponent using your facial expressions.
Microsoft may be in the market to learn more about their consumers from digital feedback such as what games people are playing, what they’re watching and for how long, but I doubt they have any real intent on spying on Xbox One users for any good reason.