Xbox One: Constantly Listening To Conversations
2013-05-28 0:00

By Mick Meaney | IntelliHub

With the announcement of Microsoft’s next generation gaming console, the Xbox One, it has emerged that the new system carries a device that will be constantly listening’ to gamer’s conversations.

During a PR move designed to make the Xbox One appear more attractive, Microsoft’s hardware program manager, John Link, let slip that a component bundled with the console, the Kinect, will contain a microphone that never turns off.

The current version of the Kinect also contains a microphone but that can be switched off.

Speaking last night, Link said:

“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.

“It 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.”

The new system can automatically detect and identify users through their body shape and voice. The system can also monitor heart rates.

Microsoft were quick to defend the technology, releasing a statement:

“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.”

They also added:

“We aren’t using Kinect to snoop on anybody at all. We listen for the word ‘Xbox on’ and then switch on the machine, but we don’t
transmit personal data in any way, shape or form that could be personally identifiable to you, unless you explicitly opt into that.”

However, the company aren’t exactly known for their commitment to privacy.


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