Well, it’s time for yet another Xbox One about-face. Microsoft had been saying that the Kinect sensor that comes bundled with every Xbox One would need to be plugged in for the console to function. It turns out that’s not quite the case.
While the Kinect is needed for a number of the Xbox One’s new features including voice control, the idea that it would be mandatory for the console’s use led to a number of concerns, especially as more and more revelations come out about the NSA’s spying capabilities. Now, according to a recent Q&A with a member of Microsoft’s Xbox team, there will be a new setting that allows you to turn off the Kinect.
“When in this mode, the sensor is not collecting any information,” Xbox Chief Platform Architect Mark Whitten told IGN. “Any functionality that relies on voice, video, gesture or more won’t work.”
The Kinect will still be able to use its IR blasting capabilities while set to off, so the setting doesn’t equate to a complete shutdown. If you try to fire up something that requires the Kinect (like Skype), your Xbox will ask you to turn it on first.
But if the off setting isn’t enough, you can also unplug the Kinect from your console altogether, and the console will still be usable.
“That said, like online, the console will still function if Kinect isn’t plugged in, although you won’t be able to use any feature or experience that explicitly uses the sensor,” Whitten said.
So, if you’re worried that Microsoft (or some three-letter agency) is going to be spying on you through your Xbox One’s Kinect, feel free to unplug it.
Previously on GeekWire: Microsoft: You’ll be able to share an Xbox Live Gold subscription on Xbox One