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Your Kinect Is Watching You
March 7, 2012 4:27 PM   Subscribe

The amazing, disturbing things your gaming console can learn about you. Consider the Kinect, the Microsoft console that sold 8 million units in its first 60 days of release. This inexpensive, book-sized panel has the ability to create a realistic, virtual likeness of the player. In doing so, it creates a delightful interface to play games—instead of hitting a button to kick a ball, you kick your foot and the digital character on screen mimics your movements. How does the Kinect produce this dazzling immersive experience? By capturing every move you make.
posted by Strass (43 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
How does the Kinect produce this dazzling immersive experience? By capturing every move you make.

This can't possibly surprise anyone. It's the entire purpose of the device.
posted by stopgap at 4:33 PM on March 7, 2012 [29 favorites]


Oh!

*puts clothes on and peanut butter away*
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:35 PM on March 7, 2012 [19 favorites]


Suggestion: All future cameras and sensors for devices should have an in-built HAL-style red glow to let you know when they are watching you. Also so that they look cooler.
posted by Artw at 4:40 PM on March 7, 2012 [4 favorites]


Next week on Slate: how the magic photo-box will steal part of your soul!
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 4:40 PM on March 7, 2012 [20 favorites]


I don't understand the point of the article. There's a device that could be capturing your movements to figure out what you're doing (when you're directly in front of it, at least), but the fact is that it isn't. Practically every modern laptop has a user-facing webcam that could be recording everything you do in front of a computer (plus what you type!), every single cell phone has a microphone that could be eavesdropping on you, every GPS Navigational device knows where you are and could be tracking your movements, the list goes on and on.

What's the "privacy" angle for yet another device that could be doing something nefarious, but isn't?
posted by 0xFCAF at 4:41 PM on March 7, 2012 [7 favorites]


Wow, i hadn't really thought about that in that way. if this data could be stored and reprocessed (anonymously I'm sure), imagine the uses. Health data would be interesting. If they could track where teh eyeballs go, game designers and informatics would be very interested.
posted by wilful at 4:42 PM on March 7, 2012


Coming to a local TV "Investigative Report" near you...
posted by brundlefly at 4:42 PM on March 7, 2012


As technology becomes more immersive, your video-game persona is not just a character. It’s you.

Worst X-Files episode ever.
posted by Artw at 4:43 PM on March 7, 2012 [6 favorites]


Just imagine if teachers, based on a small sample of their students’ nonverbal behavior, could instantly detect which students needed extra attention or specialized assignments.

This seems like something most teacher's are perfectly capable of noticing on their own.
posted by edbles at 4:43 PM on March 7, 2012 [5 favorites]


And what about these things you call mobile phones, huh? Capturing every sound you make! No, really.
posted by vidur at 4:44 PM on March 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


By looking at nothing more than the direction a child’s head was pointed—a snap for a system like the Kinect—Skip Rizzo and his colleagues were able to detect hyperactivity disorders like ADHD. A system examining nonverbal behavior in real time could use this data to automatically diagnose kids in school.

A robot arm would then drop from the ceiling and shoot the little miscreant full of ritalin.
posted by edbles at 4:44 PM on March 7, 2012 [10 favorites]


I'm starting to suspect that my video camera might also be capable of recording my every movement. Creepy! And that my digital camera can record a perfect likeness of me....
posted by MoonOrb at 4:45 PM on March 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Isn't the difference the specificity with which the Kinect is designed to pay attention to all the little bits of movement? Like Andy Serkis as Gollum, it analyzes kinetic motion in that same way. That's different than a video camera.
posted by lazaruslong at 4:48 PM on March 7, 2012


Yeesh. What a load of malarkey.

Imagine this guy's horror when he learns of the existence of video cameras.
posted by Sys Rq at 4:48 PM on March 7, 2012


Artw: "Worst X-Files episode ever."

"The most frightening video game ever!"
posted by brundlefly at 4:49 PM on March 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


I was recently watching some dumb Science channle thing about robotics, you know, where they go out to some lab and film a talking head with whatever robot he's tinkering with and then they show a clip of I Robot because it's ALL EXACTLY THE SAME, and I noticed that all of the robots appeared to have Kinects built into them. It wasn;t really remarked upon - of course they want to get to some handwavy stuff about the three laws of robotics and our future where everyone has C3-PO as a butler, but I'm wondering to what extent the kinect is becoming the standard off-the-shelf sensor rig for that kind of thing.
posted by Artw at 4:49 PM on March 7, 2012


(Also, the whole article seems to scream PLEASE PROCURE MY SERVICES AS A BODY LANGUAGE EXPERT as much as it's just plain old FUD-filled linkbait.)
posted by Sys Rq at 4:52 PM on March 7, 2012


NY Times just ran an article on how if you use your tablet to check twitter while reading a book it will distract you from reading a book. Clearly there is a market for this kind of thing.
posted by Artw at 4:56 PM on March 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


> Imagine this guy's horror when he learns of the existence of video cameras.

I think the main difference there is that ubiquitous video cameras are generally just taping everything and there's really no central repository (at least I hope not). If there's no crime or other reason to review the video, it simply is overwritten or archived without any further scrutiny. With the Kinect, all of the collected imagery is going straight to one source who is indeed doing or will do analysis on it.

Not really a cause for panic, but there is a fair amount of difference between the two.
posted by Burhanistan at 5:19 PM on March 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Practically every modern laptop has a user-facing webcam that could be recording everything you do in front of a computer

It could be, if I didn't have a sticker pasted over it.
posted by radwolf76 at 5:28 PM on March 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


WONTFIX, working as designed
posted by radiosilents at 5:29 PM on March 7, 2012


Suggestion: All future cameras and sensors for devices should have an in-built HAL-style red glow to let you know when they are watching you.

The Kinect does have a red light when it's on.

With the Kinect, all of the collected imagery is going straight to one source who is indeed doing or will do analysis on it.

As far as I know, Microsoft isn't arbitrarily collecting all Kinect data and storing it somewhere. You can specifically upload images and stuff if you want, but that's all opt-in. If there was surreptitious uploading going on, I would assume security researchers would have already caught on from sniffing the network data going in and out of a 360.
posted by kmz at 5:29 PM on March 7, 2012


Amazon recommended a "Kinect Privacy Cover" for me the other day. Some of the reviews suggest that they're not alone with privacy concerns:

My wife was concerned about personal security because the Kinect camera is always on, and could in theory be used to spy, despite the fact we could turn off the Kinect controller. To address the security concern for my wife, I turned off the Kinect and covered it with a dish towel.

I have small children and couldn't be happier with my purchase. We love playing games with Kinect, but I must say we were a little worried about having an internet connected camera in our living room. In today's environment of "hacking" and "fraud", we prefer a little more peace of mind. Great product!

for the past year or so that I've had the Kinect in our living room, it has always sorta bugged me that a camera was always looking at me. I'm not a freaked out "Big Brother" conspiracy theorist or anything, but I knew there had to be something out there that would cover the camera and sensor without having to turn it around or unplug it when not in use.

I mainly got it because I'm paranoid someone might watch me


I've got to say, however, that I'm 99.99999% certain that Microsoft would not sell a product that fed any kind of raw image back to the mothership without explicit consent. That's just a billion dollar lawsuit waiting to happen.
posted by rh at 5:30 PM on March 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


With the Kinect, all of the collected imagery is going straight to one source who is indeed doing or will do analysis on it.

Or be subject to the same high level of subpoena oversight as demonstrated by, say, telcoms a while a go. Once that was made public had some of the very same snarkers in this post all frothy.
posted by rough ashlar at 5:30 PM on March 7, 2012


How does the Kinect produce this dazzling immersive experience? By capturing every move you make.

Nice try Kinect. What it doesn't realise is that every time I step in front of it, I become Señor Thrusto, King of the Nougat Plains.
posted by tumid dahlia at 5:31 PM on March 7, 2012 [4 favorites]


Oh, we all realize.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 5:38 PM on March 7, 2012


If only it was possible to track the traffic from a device on your network and examine the information that the Kinect sends back to Microsoft. I'm sure if that was the case, this intrepid, uh, journalist, no, that's not right, person who writes linkbait for money on the Internet would have used such a method to determine if Microsoft was collecting this information.

Of course, that's just crazy talk. How would you even do that?
posted by eyeballkid at 5:49 PM on March 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


1109 SUBJECT STATIONARY ON COUCH
1110 SUBJECT STATIONARY ON COUCH
1111 SUBJECT STATIONARY ON COUCH
1112 SUBJECT STATIONARY ON COUCH
posted by mattoxic at 5:49 PM on March 7, 2012 [37 favorites]


A robot arm would then drop from the ceiling and shoot the little miscreant full of ritalin.smack them in the head with a bamboo rod
Also,
Worst X-Files episode ever.
Can no one turn a William Gibson story into something watchable? The heartache is Unending...
posted by djrock3k at 5:57 PM on March 7, 2012


1113 SUBJECT MOSTLY STATIONARY ON COUCH
1113 DEVICE BLERGH DO NOT WANT ERROR
posted by maxwelton at 6:09 PM on March 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


Señor Thrusto, King of the Nougat Plains

If only I had $5 to waste and a valid Paypal acct.
posted by nevercalm at 6:35 PM on March 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


1109 SUBJECT STATIONARY ON COUCH
1110 SUBJECT STATIONARY ON COUCH
1111 SUBJECT STATIONARY ON COUCH
1112 SUBJECT STATIONARY ON COUCH


1113 ADMINISTER STIMULATORY SHOCK
1114 SHOCK UNSUCCESSFUL. TERMINATE SUBJECT.
1115 No data.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 7:09 PM on March 7, 2012


If only I had $5 to waste and a valid Paypal acct.

If only I didn't.
posted by Senor Thrusto, King of the Nougat Plains at 7:12 PM on March 7, 2012 [40 favorites]


I dont get why people are so upset that their technology watches them masturbate. I mean, I payed good money for that webcam, at least something is looking at my junk.
posted by KeSetAffinityThread at 7:14 PM on March 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm a bit disturbed that the top related article Slate decided to show me was the one about fake and the russian girls.
posted by wierdo at 7:21 PM on March 7, 2012


If only I didn't.
posted by Senor Thrusto, King of the Nougat Plains


Oh god, you incredible son of an endlessly unforgiveable bitch.
posted by nevercalm at 7:36 PM on March 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


This reminds me a whole lot of @NYTOnIt on Twitter ("GUYS, sports fans cheer for the home team and mock the visitors. The Times is ON IT. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/06/sports/soccer/soccer-fans-chants-fire-up-home-team-or-slight-the-opponent.html?_r=1&smid=tw-nytimes&seid=auto").
posted by DoctorFedora at 8:00 PM on March 7, 2012


*puts clothes on and peanut butter away*

*puts clothes away and peanut butter on*
posted by zippy at 10:09 PM on March 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


I dont get why people are so upset that their technology watches them masturbate.

It's better when it's not my technology.
posted by mattoxic at 3:26 AM on March 8, 2012


I dont get why people are so upset that their technology watches them masturbate.

Buy a Furby, then we'll talk about who is upset about what watching them masturbate.
posted by griphus at 5:19 AM on March 8, 2012


....Furbys can masturbate?
posted by robocop is bleeding at 5:58 AM on March 8, 2012


The most disturbing thing, in my mind, is how the Kinect will "nod" when it recognizes you.

The kids commonly leave the Xbox and Kinect on, and when I go downstairs to grab something out of the freezer, it looks at me, and then nods.

I've got my Xbox Live account tied to my Facebook account. Every time this happens, I come back upstairs, and by that time my cellphone beeps to notify me that I've logged into Xbox Live.
posted by thanotopsis at 6:11 AM on March 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


I've got my Xbox Live account tied to my Facebook account.

Not with a bang but a whimper.
posted by The Bellman at 1:33 PM on March 8, 2012


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