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Griefing The Xbox One And The New Kinect

by Kyle Hilliard on Nov 22, 2013 at 02:00 PM

The fateful day of the Xbox One and the new Kinect is upon us, and rather than spend the day playing new video games, Dan Ryckert and myself decided to grief and haze the console and the new Kinect camera to see how much we could confuse it.

Standing the console up

Microsoft does not recommend standing the console up like the majority of owners did with their Xbox 360s. When I stood the console up, it not blow up or immediately erupt into flames. It appeared to continue running with no problems, but it did not recognize the disc I placed in the console. It took the disc in and ejected it without issue while standing up, but it would not play, recognize, or install the game.

Distinguishing between cartoons, mannequins, and real people

For some reason, we have a mannequin in the offices of Game Informer. I don’t know why it’s here, but it’s been here since I started, and I hope to never find out where it came from so it can retain its mystery. The Kinect recognized it as a person, immediately and consistently marking it as a guest on the console. This is understandable as the mannequin has the same proportions as a human.

Standing behind the mannequin, I placed my arms in the air, and the Kinect thought that he sprouted human arms. I was able to navigate the menus while standing behind the mannequin.

For the next test, we decided to draw pictures of a body and a face and see if the Kinect was able to distinguish between them and real humans. The drawing of the person (which admittedly lacks detail) was never picked up by the Kinect.

The drawing of the face however, was picked up and registered as a guest on one occasion, but it wasn’t consistent. The Kinect realized that it was looking at a drawing of a face and a human, and nothing more.

Similar to the mannequin, we also have a mysterious giraffe statue in our office. Again, I don’t know why it's here, I don’t know where it came from, and I don’t intend to find out. For the most part, the Kinect understood that the giraffe was not a human being, but near the end of our experiments, it, strangely, started to log in the giraffe as me. Even while standing next to it, it still registered the giraffe as me, and me as a guest. It only happened on the one occasion, though.

Wearing masks

As part of the promotional material for Batman: Arkham Origins, we were sent plastic Black Mask masks. On every occasion, once I was wearing the mask, it did not recognize me at all. If I walked out of the range of the camera and took off the mask and re-entered the frame, it would appropriately log me in as Kyle. We also tried taking the mask off while on camera, and while it signed me back in after removing the mask twice, it never worked for Dan.

Placing the Kinect upside down

Once the Kinect was turned upside down, it was useless in recognizing us. It couldn't log in or register anybody.

Activating Xbox commands over Skype and intentionally confusing the microphone

After downloading Skype, I called Dan who was at his desk in another section of the office and turned the volume up on the TV as loud as I could without disturbing others. Dan shouted commands, attempting to open Internet Explorer and Snap in other applications by saying, “Xbox, etc.” over the Skype conversation. It never worked, but I was still able to use voice commands. The device is skilled at distinguishing voices emanating from the television, and voices emanating from in front of the TV.

We also tried to confuse Kinect by standing on opposite sides of the room and shouting commands going back and forth between single words in a sentence. For example, one of us said, “Xbox,” and then the other said, “Bing,” and the other said, “Game,” and the other said, “Informer.” It confused the Kinect somewhat, but the majority of our attempts resulted in return searches of the words we were searching for.

We successfully tricked the Kinect on many occasions, but we were using the device in ways not originally intended. It did surprise us though, like when it understood that I had removed my mask and when it was able to easily distinguish between the voice from Skype and the voice from the person in the room. It’s not perfect, but when compared to the first Kinect, Kinect 2.0 is a vast improvement.