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Xbox One Kinect is always on and listening

Wednesday, 22nd May 2013 06:49 GMT By Naren Hooson

As more and more details are released and clarified by Microsoft regarding the specification of the Xbox One features and functionality, it has been revealed that the microphone for Xbox One’s Kinect will always be on.

It was revealed that Kinect for Xbox One will support voice commands for powering the console on as well as off. Talking to Polygon, John Link, Microsoft’s hardware program manager, touches on the Kinect settings on the upcoming console. “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.”

The Xbox One will have “multiple power states,” he said. At the lowest setting the peripheral listening will be tuned to activate specific commands. This setting is referred to as “wake on voice.” Therefor 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.”

When the issue of privacy was raised, a spokesperson for Microsoft outlined that privacy is a “top priority” for the company. “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.”

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28 Comments

  1. G1GAHURTZ

    Uh oh!

    The illuminati is watching YOU!

    #1 2 years ago
  2. Bomba Luigi

    Yeah, I’m out. I don’t want a Machine that is watching/listening me all the Time in my Livingroom. Really hope PS4 works without EyeToy, or next Gen is PC-only for me.

    #2 2 years ago
  3. Holesome

    Nice feature. My only concern is how much electricity it uses in this “waiting for on command” state. Now if my TV and surround sound could also be turned on when the x1 turns on the solution will be complete.

    #3 2 years ago
  4. Cobra951

    Really simple solution for that: Plug the thing into a switched powerstrip. When you want it truly off, turn it off at the strip.

    #4 2 years ago
  5. FeaturePreacher

    One obvious feature that should get more discussion is the range of kinect. If gestures can’t be used at a short range while sitting, then this thing is completely useless to me. I think that will eventually make this completely useless for 3rd parties making hardcore titles.

    #5 2 years ago
  6. salarta

    I thought this was a given. Microsoft was pretty much saying you had to yell FUS-RO-DAH to get the thing to turn on, and for that to work, you need the Kinect to be on at all times.

    It’s still a privacy concern, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it was discovered somewhere down the line that it will be used for law enforcement to some degree. It’s just one you have to expect for the features they suggested.

    #6 2 years ago
  7. Gheritt White

    There’s no flipping way I’m having an always-on camera in my living room. I’m not paranoid, but all this sounds to me like some kind of Orwellian nightmare.

    #7 2 years ago
  8. CyberMarco

    So it begins, John Connor we need you.

    #8 2 years ago
  9. Vapsyvox

    @7 It functions as a directional microphone during its “off”-state, not an always-on camera. Also, if you’re afraid of it watching, turn it around or block the camera.

    #9 2 years ago
  10. karma

    No way in hell is that coming in my living room.

    #10 2 years ago
  11. mtnman3888

    @4 I believe I read somewhere that Kinect had to be connected and plugged in for the console to even function, so turning it off via a different power source wouldn’t work as the console wouldn’t work either.

    #11 2 years ago
  12. stevo5800

    After reading these comments and many more I’m starting to think people don’t understand what they are reading. Most modern Laptops/PC’s come with a camera/mic either build in or some buy them separately. For example my iMac comes with a built in mic and camera same with my laptop. What I’m trying to prove here is that it’s easier to hack a PC then a console. PC would obviously store more personal information then the game console as well. And having a mic/camera hooked up to it is completely safe. People who think they are being watched on camera are uneducated people who are paranoid. For one thing there are Millions of console users, so you would need millions of people to even watch these videos witch would make of an absolute waste of time for everyone. And if you understood how Kinects works then you will understand why it needs to be on. Plus there’s nothing saying the camera is actually doing anything thing. They just state that the mic is on for listening(They are adding new features) so users can turn their xbox on. Another thing they added was that it uses power states. Meaning it’s in minimal power usage when off. I’d be surprised if it even had enough power to supply the camera, and if it ever did well guess what it needs even more power for computing power and sending data over the net making it in an almost powered on state witch it does not do while it’s off. See the more I think about it the more impossible or unlikely would this thing ever invade any privacy. On top of all that they tell you there will be settings for this thing so that should tell you possible shut off option?

    #12 2 years ago
  13. Beta

    Yeah I’m not a privacy freak. But if I ever buy one, I may just tape over the lens, as I never use motion control so there’s no need to be staring at me the whole time. ;p

    #13 2 years ago
  14. JGMR

    @12 Go ahead, keep on building your invisible prison. You do not even know what the word paranoid actually refers to – fool.

    #14 2 years ago
  15. deathm00n

    @12 You do know that there’s no need to send it over the net at the moment it’s recording right? It could record a video then when the console is online it would send it and delete it from you console. And there’s to need to keep people watching it, they could just store it under each one profile. It is a valid concern. The difference between this and laptop cameras is that a laptop camera NEED to show when it’s on, there a indicator light on almost everyone of it, it follows this pattern, I can turn it on and off anytime, even unninstall the firmware of it so it can shutdown for good. You have no way to tell if the camera is turned on or not on the Xbox. It probably have an led indicator, but it could be easily forged.

    Crazy conspiracy theory, I know, but it has all the right setup to happen. Police could very well ask for videos stored.

    #15 2 years ago
  16. JGMR

    @15 It’s not theoretical. It’s blatantly in yer face. With their “IllumiRooms” and always online regime. The willing slave does not want to see it, it’s a conscious decision, and they’re absolutely free to make it…

    #16 2 years ago
  17. Samoan Spider

    @12 Yeah, I’ve seen numerous articles regarding law enforcement actually remotely using peoples laptop cameras to obtain evidence. There’s even an app for when your Macbook get’s nicked to use the camera and geolocation to nab the suspect and find it.
    But on topic, I don’t care about this. It’s the same view as someone walking by my front window. If they want to take a peek at me sat on my sofa in shorts watching a movie with a glass of whisky then that’s ok by me.
    I just hope it is functionally better than the original Kinect which I saw as an interesting proof of concept but a shit consumer product. Although my nieces’ enjoyed it.

    #17 2 years ago
  18. OlderGamer

    I was reading that if the Kinect doesn’t work properly, the system won’t be usable either. So no towels or tape over the lens, no pointing it at the wall either. But I think ALOT of info and misinfo is floating around at this point. Hard to know what to trust.

    #18 2 years ago
  19. Tavarish

    @12 and Rest of You :b,

    Following links are all about same, rather a lot visibility gained, case where school used borrowed laptops, borrowed by school, to spy on students via cameras in said laptops. I want see doubters spinning that shit…

    http://www.geeksaresexy.net/2010/04/19/school-laptop-spying-case-just-keeps-getting-creepier/
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/apr/20/us-school-accused-laptops-spying
    http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/Parenting/pennsylvania-school-fbi-probe-webcam-students-spying/story?id=9905488
    http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2010/04/webcamscanda/

    #19 2 years ago
  20. Ireland Michael

    ITT: paranoid people.

    There are plenty of reasons to be pissed off at the X1. This is not one of them.

    #20 2 years ago
  21. Cort

    As someone said earlier, this is a reveal that just keeps on giving.

    Go fuck yourself MS. And here, take my 360 as well. And well done Nintendo too. You’ve both turned me from a multi-console gamer (for nearly 20 years) to a single console gamer.

    #21 2 years ago
  22. Cort

    @12 Yes. But my PC works when I disable all those things and tape them up as well. XBox -359 won’t work if Kinect isn’t connected and functioning.

    #22 2 years ago
  23. The_Red

    @20
    I think it is but not due to conspiracies. It’s simply a matter of random human errors. There are already people that have private conversations in the living room while another player who is engaged in MP match / game (Like Uno) can hear.

    #23 2 years ago
  24. Cobra951

    @11: I assume the kinect will be powered through the XBO. I meant plug the whole thing into a switched outlet, if the concern is spying even while you think the unit is off. Clearly, it needs to be on for the system to function. If you don’t like that, then the solution is just as simple: Don’t buy the XBO. That’s my solution, and not just because of the forced kinect.

    #24 2 years ago
  25. Bomba Luigi

    If Kinect would just be there not working, that would be Fine for me. Look on my Laptop Camera, it has Physical Shutter and it has that in case it god hacked. I don’t made that Shutter by myself out of Paranoia, its standard.

    The Problem is Kinect is always listening, its always working and that is my Problem. A Camera that is there but dosn’t worke and don’t have to in order to keep the Console function would be ok.

    #25 2 years ago
  26. salarta

    @12: “Most modern Laptops/PC’s come with a camera/mic either build in or some buy them separately.”

    Meanwhile, most PEOPLE I know either go out of their way to get laptops/PCs that don’t have those functions, or actively cover up the camera. It’s not paranoid when we have actual cases of perverts hacking into the cameras of women, taking compromising pictures and videos of them (typically naked, but there are all sorts of other possible problems), and in some cases blackmailing the women to give them more of such things.

    The risk isn’t necessarily in Microsoft. The risk is in other people hacking XBox One for their own nefarious purposes.

    #26 2 years ago
  27. monkeygourmet

    @25

    You left out:

    It also see’s in the dark :)

    #27 2 years ago
  28. monkeygourmet

    Harvesting information to sell to advertisers! Yay!

    How much you fidget when watching TV? do you snack when watching certain shows? do you talk through adverts? Do you watch shows with more than one person? Do you browse products on Bing after seeing an advert?

    Etc… Etc…

    MS should pay people for this because we are all participating in free market research. Can’t wait to see the fine print!

    #28 2 years ago

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