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Fears Xbox One has spying eye

Tim Biggs (via SMH) | June 5, 2013
Microsoft's newly announced game and entertainment console has the potential to collect data relating to your entertainment use, personal movements, speech and activities before sending it to the tech giant's servers.

Journalists try out the new Kinect controller at the Xbox One launch.
Harmless fun? Journalists try out the new Kinect controller at the Xbox One launch. Photo: AP

Microsoft's newly announced game and entertainment console has the potential to collect data relating to your entertainment use, personal movements, speech and activities before sending it to the tech giant's servers.

The Xbox One requires a connection to the internet to function, and also requires a constant link with Kinect - Microsoft's all-in-one HD 3D camera and microphone device. Tim Vines, a director at Civil Liberties Australia, says this combination paints a picture of "quite an intrusive device". 

"We're not exactly sure what level of information [Kinect] is providing, but these sort of machines will often send analytical data, performance data back to Microsoft HQ in order for the service to be improved in the future.

New tech: Xbox One with the new Kinect, left.
New tech: Xbox One with the new Kinect, left. Photo: Reuters

"That could include the camera trying to guess how many people are in a room, trying to recognise shapes in order to distinguish between a male and a female, between children, adults and teenagers," Mr Vines said.

"If people want to have it in their living rooms, and if Microsoft want people to buy it, then I think they have an obligation to be honest about what information's being collected and how it's going to be used."

The all-in-one nature of the Xbox One means it's intended to serve as a gatekeeper between you and all your media, designed to access and process your live television, online media subscriptions, video games, web browsing and TV, films and music served by Microsoft. This potentially extends the data that could be harvested to TV viewing habits, film preferences, whether you stay in front of the TV during advertisements or how many times you laugh during an episode of Family Guy.

Microsoft has boasted that their new Kinect sensor is sensitive enough to detect your heart rate, take your pulse by measuring changes in skin pigmentation, operate in a pitch-black room and distinguish between different users by their face and voice.

The company also demonstrated the device's ability to infer the amount of pressure a user is exerting against a physical object, as well as its ability to collate data in order to learn each user's media preference and make suggestions or automatically download games and other content.

 

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