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Microsoft Addresses Xbox One Privacy Concerns

by Jeff Cork on Jun 06, 2013 at 12:34 PM

Kinect isn't an accessory with the Xbox One – Microsoft has designed almost everything for the system around the device. For some users, the idea of having a camera pointed in their living rooms was disconcerting, particularly considering the console's "always on" focus. Today, Microsoft has provided some information that they hope will alleviate some of those fears.

According to a post on the console's official site, users will be able to change a variety of privacy settings to fit their comfort levels. They include whether or not players will be automatically signed in by standing in front of the unit or whether the camera is on, off, or paused. 

Here's what kinds of controls Microsoft says players will have with Kinect and the Xbox One.

  • You are in control of what Kinect can see and hear: By design, you will determine how responsive and personalized your Xbox One is to you and your family during setup. The system will navigate you through key privacy options, like automatic or manual sign in, privacy settings, and clear notifications about how data is used. When Xbox One is on and you’re simply having a conversation in your living room, your conversation is not being recorded or uploaded. 
  • You are in control of when Kinect sensing is On, Off or Paused: If you don’t want the Kinect sensor on while playing games or enjoying your entertainment, you can pause Kinect. To turn off your Xbox One, just say “Xbox Off.” When the system is off, it’s only listening for the single voice command -- “Xbox On,” and you can even turn that feature off too. Some apps and games may require Kinect functionality to operate, so you’ll need to turn it back on for these experiences.
  • You are in control of your personal data: You can play games or enjoy applications that use data, such as videos, photos, facial expressions, heart rate and more, but this data will not leave your Xbox One without your explicit permission. Here are a few examples of potential future scenarios:
    • A fitness game could measure heart rate data to provide you with improved feedback on your workout, allow you to track your progress, or even measure calories burned.
    • A card game could allow you to bluff your virtual opponent using your facial expressions.
  • You can use other inputs to control your games, TV and entertainment experiences: While it’s faster to find what you’re looking for using your voice and gesture commands with Kinect, you can use a controller, your remote controls or your smart devices instead. And you can use all of these devices when Kinect is paused.

Take a look at our Kinect feature for more information on the device, including a look at its improved technical specs – privacy concerns notwithstanding.

For more info on today's Xbox One announcements, check out details on how the new console will approach used games and game sharing, and learn more about Microsoft's approach to the always online question