The in-built microphone in the new version of Kinect shipping with Xbox One will always be listening to you.
That includes when the machine is turned. If this wasn’t the case then users would not be able to turn on their machines via voice.
"The Kinect has a variety of settings," Microsoft hardware program manager John Link told Polygon. "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.
There are settings, obviously, in the console to be able to change the settings of how your Kinect is used, if you’re interested."
Is this a potential personal security headache in the making for the company? No, according to a Microsoft spokesperson: "The new Kinect is listening for a specific cue, like ‘Xbox on’.
"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."
There may also be further issues brewing regarding Kinect’s visual monitoring of its users. Owners will log into their machine simply by walking into Kinect’s field of view. Although it hasn’t been confirmed, it seems as if Xbox One owners will also be able to log into another user’s machine by presenting themselves to Kinect.
It’s even possible that this form of, for want of a better term, DRM may play a part in the sticky issue of pre-owned authorisation.