User privacy may be invaded as Microsoft patent suggests 'snooping tech' in motion sensor

UPDATE: Kinect 2’s visual DRM may threaten user choice

Kinect 2 will be able to employ certain DRM measures depending on what it observes in the living room.

That’s the conclusion suggested by a patent filed by Microsoft, and corroborated by sources talking to MCV in the weeks leading up to this week’s Xbox One reveal.

ExtremeTech reports that Microsoft has filed for a patent that allows Kinect to monitor the number of viewers in the room. It then cross-checks this with the maximum number of viewers permitted by the licence that a user agrees to when purchasing or renting content.

If it is deemed that too many people are present, the user will be prompted to pay an additional fee to upgrade the licence.

Says the filing: “The users consuming the content on a display device are monitored so that if the number of user-views licensed is exceeded, remedial action may be taken.”

It should be noted too that Kinect is designed to continuously observe its roommates. It also adds that the T&Cs for any particular piece of content can be determined by the copyright holder.

It’s also hard to stop yourself pondering where such a tech ideology could lead. Could Kinect block 18-rated content if it detects minors in the room? What if the owner of the content licence leaves mid-viewing?

And how much of this information is being fed back to Microsoft? And even more importantly, its affiliates?

Are content owners paying to receive information about what part of a film viewers enjoyed the most? Or whether they continued to look at the TV screen when an advertisement was aired?

Big questions lie ahead.

When contacted by MCV Microsoft said it does not comment on rumour and speculation.

UPDATE: To address the question of the age of the patent. Yes, the patent is old. But we have been told by UK industry sources within the last month that this system will be implemented on Xbox One.

UPDATE 2: Microsoft has now issued MCV with the following comment: "Microsoft regularly applies for and receives patents as part of its business practice; not all patents applied for or received will be incorporated into a Microsoft product.

This story was originally pubished on our sister site MCV

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