Kinect: Who's Watching?

Microsoft hasn't officially announced such advertising so who knows when it will begin stalking us poor gamers.

By XboxBetty, Posted 06 Jul 2012

I'm going to try and write this without sounding completely insane. Lately I've been feeling like someone's watching me. More specifically my Kinect is watching me. When I first plugged in my Kinect it freaked me out a bit. I think it was the mere fact that it was moving; making adjustments to my placement in the room. It certainly has a mind of its own as its able to tune itself to my position and voice. But motion gaming is old news. We all know the capabilities of the Kinect, but has it gone too far?

In March of 2011 Xbox released a testing program called Xbox Live Labs. The program was optional to Xbox Live users but was awfully tempting as it offered avatar items for participation. Xbox didn't get too detailed as to what the program was but stated, "Xbox Live Labs performs a number of network tests from your console to Xbox Live. These results are recorded and will be used so that we can continue to improve your Xbox Live experience."

More recently (March 2012) Xbox released an application called Voice Studio. Similar to Xbox Live Labs the Voice Studio application exists in order to gather information in the hopes of making a better Xbox experience. As well, you are rewarded avatar items and achievements. Only this time the process is more interactive as it involves your Kinect. You're asked to sit or stand in a certain area of the room and read words and phrases aloud. This information will be gathered and saved in order to improve speech recognition on the Kinect.

Kinect, Review, Latest, News, Rumor, Preview, Trailer
Speak up! We can't hear you!

Right on Microsoft. I'm all about the improvement of my gaming experience. And of course, I love me some avatar bling! However the paranoid schizophrenic in me tends to wonder, "What else are you doing with my information, how much access do you have, and who else has access to it?" Like it or not outside companies are now involved in this amazing technology we call the Kinect.

Last month Microsoft announced their first NUads advertisers. Before I tell you who they are you probably want to know what NUads are. Simply put they are interactive advertisements. Using the Kinect you are able to engage and involve yourself with the advertisement. For example the company Lynx (Axe in the U.S.) plays a commercial and during it asks, "Should we give the Lynx effect to girls?" The viewer then responds, with their voice or a wave of their hand: "Yes, of course" or "No way." Advertisers now have your opinion about a product. My hunch is that your answer is collected, put into a database, and used to determine future products/advertisements. The first NUads advertisers include: Toyota, Unilever, and Samsung Mobile USA.

What the heck are NUads?

This is where it gets really creepy. On 6/15/12 published an article on NUads entitled, "Kinect lets you interact with ads, may spy on your mood." It covers the basics of NUads and some. As you can see the title of said article alludes that there is the capability of an outsider (advertiser) to "spy" on an individual via the Kinect. The article states that Microsoft recently filed a patent application titled "Targeting Advertisements Based on Emotion." Indeed they did. Give the application a read; freaky stuff. In short the patent states an advertiser will be able to show you a specific advertisement depending on your emotional state. According to the patent advertisers would be aware of your emotional state through the collection of data (via the Kinect): online activity, facial expressions, speech patterns, etc.

(Cue scary music). Your Kinect is accessible from the other side. Hopefully, of course, only with your permission. Even with consent I'm not going to be 100% comfortable with my emotions being read. The minor paranoia makes me feel a little crazy at times. Yes, I've let Xbox test my connections, and yes Xbox is now aware of my speech patterns but, do I want them knowing how I'm feeling? Not really. Makes me want to throw down some money for a fancy Kinect privacy cover.

This fall you will begin to see NUads popping up on your Xbox Live dashboard. Just another obnoxious blinking box distracting you from your real task. I'm a sucker so give me free stuff and I'll tell you what I think about Axe body spray; with mild anxiety. Emotional advertising? I think I'll pass. Microsoft hasn't officially announced such advertising so who knows when it will begin stalking us poor gamers. Far  into the future would be nice. Never would be even better.

Megan Bethke, NoobFeed (@XboxBetty)

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  • Advancements in the world of capitalism. I like this idea but a privacy setting would have to be installed. 

    Posted Jul 08, 2012

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Platform(s): Xbox One, PS4, Switch, Xbox 360, PS3, PC, WII, 3DS, Vita, Mobile
Publisher(s): NoobFeed
Developer(s): NoobFeed Editors
Genres: Artcile
Themes: Feature, Editorial, Interviews, Opinion Pieces
Release Date: 2009-02-14

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