Microsoft contractors listened to Xbox-recorded audio – report

By Sherif Saed, Thursday, 22 August 2019 10:03 GMT

Some contractors working on behalf of Microsoft have reportedly reviewed voice recordings made on Xbox.

According to a new Motherboard report, Microsoft hired contractors to listen to audio recorded by Xbox consoles in an effort to improve voice command recognition.

Phrases like “Xbox On” and later “Hey Cortana” would trigger these recordings, as most already know. Some of them, according to the report, were triggered accidentally and were not meant as voice commands. This practice existed during the Kinect’s life, and continued when Cortana replaced it on Xbox One.

Some of these cases, a contractor told Motherboard, were triggered by players telling Cortana “No” following accidental triggers. Cortana will soon be removed from Xbox One, taking away her ability to recognise voice commands issued directly to the console.

Those who anonymously spoke to the site said the feature improved over time as a result of their work. Interestingly, contractors were not allowed to say what their job was, or mention it was for Microsoft.

Microsoft has since told Motherboard that it no longer listens to Xbox-recorded audio to improve its voice features. “We’ve long been clear that we collect voice data to improve voice-enabled services and that this data is sometimes reviewed by vendors,” the company added in a statement.

Microsoft updated its privacy policy this month in response to a different report, clarifying that, in some cases, user recordings will be reviewed by humans.

You can read the full report at the link above.

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