A newly surfaced patent filing from Microsoft’s Xbox Incubation team details one of the new innovations they’ve been thinking about. This one could be very popular among major movie and television studios. But it probably wouldn’t generate much excitement among Xbox users.

The patent application, filed under the heading “Content Distribution Regulation by Viewing User,” proposes to use cameras and sensors like those in the Xbox 360 Kinect controller to monitor, count and in some cases identify the people in a room watching television, movies and other content. The filing refers to the technology as a “consumer detector.”

In one scenario, the system would then charge for the television show or movie based on the number of viewers in the room. Or, if the number of viewers exceeds the limits laid out by a particular content license, the system would halt playback unless additional viewing rights were purchased.

The system could also take into account the age of viewers, limiting playback of mature content to adults, for example. This patent application doesn’t explain how that would work, but a separate Microsoft patent application last year described a system for using sensors to estimate age based on the proportions of their body.

Xbox Incubation GM Alex Kipman (Microsoft File Photo)

Inventors listed on the latest application include Xbox Incubation GM Alex Kipman, who led the development of Kinect. The others are Andrew Fuller, Xbox director of incubation; and Kathryn Stone Perez, executive producer of Xbox Incubation.

Also notable are references in the application to a glasses-style head-mounted display as one of the viewing options — another possible clue to the types of things the Xbox Incubation team is working on.

The patent application, made public this week, was originally submitted in April 2011. Filings such as these provide a sense for what a company’s engineers and researchers have been contemplating, but it’s not clear if Microsoft actually plans to roll out the “consumer detector” as part of the next generation of Xbox or Kinect or anything else.

Even if the technology were introduced, it seems like there would be endless ways of avoiding it, unless a broad base of technology and content providers were on board.

But who knows, maybe someday you’ll need to be extra careful how many people you invite to your big Super Bowl party … unless you’re willing to pony up a few more bucks.

Latest News

Comments

  • uxo22

    I would not buy any product that I knew had this technology in it.

    • Mike

      i would. tape a picture of obama over the camera, problem = solved

      • Fnordlab

        I think you’re confusing Obama with George Bush Sr. (aka. Ex-CIA Director) and Dick Cheney when it comes to monitoring technology fetishes.

        • http://raptr.com/DeathStrikeVirus DeathStrikeVirus

          You must not have been paying attention when the NDAA was broadened and resigned, the Patriot Act resigned, warrantless wire-tapping doubled, and drones started being used on US home soil. All under President Obama.

          • disqus_Yru8ftX4TE

            So uh, I guess you didn’t get the news that Congress is in charge of passing bills? And kindly provide a link about drones on US soil. I can wait :D

          • BlaqkJak

            Drones were used in the search for Christopher Dorner.

          • http://raptr.com/DeathStrikeVirus DeathStrikeVirus

            You mean the same ones the President signs? The same Congress and Senate that were both Democrat for Obama’s first two years? The same Senate that is still Democrat majority? Clearly you can wait, all of seven months.

      • http://www.facebook.com/tamara.dippel Tamara Dippel

        They might just make it so the machine won’t work at all while you’ve blocked the camera :( This’ll hit the courts big-time i hope!!

  • Matthew11

    Sounds like another pie in the sky technology with more holes than solutions, vaguely defined, just enough to satisfy the content providers bringing them onboard while knowing that it would be easy to cheat with a well placed photograph.

    • https://market.android.com/search?q=puzzleduck&so=1&c=apps PuZZleDucK

      easy to cheat with a well placed mannequin… you forget that kinect is 3D :p

      • WatchingUsTooMuchAlready

        You’d have to heat up the mannequin because I’m sure the incubation team has thought of infrared detection, an already well established technology.

        • TechApocalyps3

          I bet you would need to complete a unique gesture sequence to confirm you are real – MS, that was my idea you cant have it.

  • TwiztedZero

    Kinect would just become one less tech device I’d want to purchase anytime in the future. This is a BAD move on their part.

  • mssucks

    Again shows where Microsoft “innovates”

    • WatchingUsTooMuchAlready

      I agree. Enough already of maximizing profits to the nth degree. M.S. needs to also consider the cost of lost customers if they try to introduce this technology.

  • alishahrazad

    So many ways to avoid this, I’m surprised that this is news at all.

    • http://twitter.com/gamercore Chris Chavez

      It’s news because:

      1. It’s insane Microsoft/movie studios are even THINKING about imposing something like this on consumers.

      2. It’s tech that could find itself in the next version of the Kinect (and that’s news).

      3. This is what life could be like for the future. Consumer devices that watch you back.

      I don’t get it. Because it could be “easily avoided” somehow negates that this is news at all? Really?

      If Toyota has a recall on their brakes, does it mean it’s not news because people could simply use their parking break? -_-

    • http://www.facebook.com/tamara.dippel Tamara Dippel

      Unless the blockage of the camera means the machine won’t work at all, because it would’ve been programmed not to…. they may eventually make camera use mandatory on the thing and viewage and recognition of viewers etc.. the software does exist for all of that :( They’re guinea pigging it now. If successful they’d probably add what I just said later once people are used to it as it is now. Putting things into place in little stages. Kill it now, before they get the foot in the door, so to speak!!

  • http://twitter.com/hankito hankito de la calle

    This is dead before it even its the shelves. Can you imagine people keeping up appearances, clothing wise if you know what I mean, to watch TV? Nope. sorry Microsoft. No one will buy this.

  • thatguy666

    Imagine how many people would abandon the xBox if this was implemented. I’d be the first in line to OFFICE SPACE the crap out of my xBox and Kinect.

  • Ryan Young

    I have never trusted that camera, and only stood in front of it once – when I was made to set up Sonic Riders for my cousin (and failed to navigate the menu anyways)

    It connects to the internet and takes pictures when it wants to. Always has been a red flag in my mind on privacy.

  • BOb

    Lol, like Kinect will even exist by the time this tech is ready to roll out…

    Hey MS, NO ONE likes or uses Kinect.

  • http://www.facebook.com/tamara.dippel Tamara Dippel

    How DARE they dictate to me how many people I can have over to watch a movie I paid for? How DARE they dictate my socialization within my on home!!!! Also, how DARE they demand that they can look into my home through a camera into my personal, private home?!?! What is I want to be romantic with my boyfriend on the couch during a movie, even? They have no right to do this!! They also have no right to “identify” anyone within my personal home! This is unreasonable searching, using technology, just to force make a buck while putting people under a damn searchlight/microscope… and if the security agencies get into you living rooms with this using the “national security” excuse, our rights are screwed! Also no sitting naked in your own living room, even in the sweltering summer heat thanks to these jackasses. You laugh but it’s a right enjoyed in one’s PRIVATE home, as is love-making on the couch with a spouse, and ANY private conversations you have with friends or family! The implications of what these jackasses are proposing is staggering!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=22408726 Michael Yarnott

    i just drape a towel over the kinect when im not using it anyway. i
    hate to be paranoid, but i dont exactly like the idea of possibly being
    watched.

    • Matt

      I suddenly got the mental image of your tv turning on, blaring an alarm. Suddenly a voice comes on. “REMOVE THE TOWEL FROM THE KINECT IMMEDIATLY, OR FACE CONSEQUENCES.”

      You know M$ would do it, if they could. They want the Kinect always monitoring.

      I bet this is how SKYNET decides to kill us all. Get tired of all the bull it sees people do in front of their tvs.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Juston-Hutson/100000215944010 Juston Hutson

    just because we can do something doesnt mean we should, please think about the orweillian nonsense being proposed and step back from it WOW

  • SimVooo

    Thats like totally cool man, Wow.

    anon-you.tk

  • http://www.fluxresearch.com/ Clyde Smith

    I’m already under enough surveillance just being alive. Microsoft is making a comeback in many ways and both Xbox and Kinect are important pieces of the larger puzzle. I guess they’re still aholes at the end of the day. Just when their brand was getting some positive shine.

  • http://twitter.com/marduk191 marduk191

    Nazi shit like this is just giving Pirates validation. There isn’t even a viable argument if you try to make this right.

  • http://twitter.com/quidpro quidpro

    This sounds like ass

    • WatchingUsTooMuchAlready

      LOL. Smells like it too!

  • Daren_Gray

    Reason #53,975 Not To Buy the Xbox 720.

    • Daren_Gray

      Keep up the good work, Ballmer!

  • http://pfoct.blogspot.com/ James Knauer

    When meshnets arrive, “consumer protectors” will belong to consumers, not corporations.

  • http://www.facebook.com/tickman1 Rick Maurice

    Would a firmware update allow this in the current Kinect Unit?

  • drabnurd

    and I was so looking forward to playing another killer instinct…

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/LeDex-JustDex/100003467863640 LeDex JustDex

    This sounds like the right thing to do if you want companies like Sony to win over the market, etc. Don’t think this will ever happen. They can’t simply make a decision for people.

  • Chris

    Guys, this will never reach consumers. It would never be approved fro one thing. And if it was, there would be so many suits filed that eventually the courts would deem it an invasion of privacy and kick it back.

    Y’all are getting so worked up over nothing. This is just a publicity move for Microsoft to satisfy the movie industry, nothing more. MS has no desire to watch us, nor any real benefit from it. The patent was filed in order to show MPAA and all the other aholes that Microsoft is supporting protecting their rights…… so MS can have the right to broadcast more media content. That’s all people! MS isn’t anywhere dumb enough to implement this. They are fully aware of the reprocussions from consumers. chill out people!!

  • Tyler

    AAAAND that’s why I’m a PC gamer.

  • http://www.facebook.com/joshjacob Josh Jacob

    and the little people of the world revolt as their Xboxes confine them to nothing but pg-13 movies…lol

  • Liz Cruz

    They’re gonna impliment all this tecnology making the console more expensive, just so they can charge us even more with movies and such…. lose lose situation for the consumer if you ask me. In my opinion I think they should stop implementing all these fancy features we don’t need and stick to focusing on making it better for the games. I don’t need to watch movies and other shinanigans on a gamming console, thats what I have a PC for.

  • Eek the Cat

    And what about painting with faces on it? Is this gonna make me put away my family pictures?

Job Listings on GeekWork