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.”