Speaking at an investor's conference on Thursday, a Microsoft executive offered that Kinect not only knows how many are in the room when an ad's shown, but what kind of team colors they might be wearing. Uh-oh.
Privacy concerns with the Kinect aren't a new subject, of course. At the BMO Capital Markets forum, Dennis Durkin, the chief operating officer of Microsoft's Interactive Entertainment division, offered that if someone were watching a sporting event with Kinect on (for example, ESPN's new streaming service to the Xbox 360), Kinect could deduce what team they support based on what kind of jersey or colors they wore, and serve advertising tailored to that.
Digital Trends offers that it's not much different from how Facebook serves its ads, though in that case, there's something of an active opt-in (choosing to publicize your favorite films, food, sports teams, your alma mater, etc.) Durkin's example carries the implication that you don't know you're being watched - basically, studied - for marketing purposes. The results would be aggregated of course - charts and numbers, not a piece of raw video of you saved and stored somewhere - but it still sounds Orwellian.
Orwellian enough that when the Wall Street Journal mentioned it, Microsoft issued this statement:
Xbox 360 and Xbox Live do not use any information captured by Kinect for advertising targeting purposes. Microsoft has a strong track record of implementing some of the best privacy protection measures in the industry. We place great importance on the privacy of our customers' information and the safety of their experiences.
But if we're to take Durkin at his word, it means the capability is there, regardless of whether it's being used.
Kinect's Camera Could Record Data For Advertisers [DigitalTrends]