Amongst the many controversial features that new games console the Xbox One will carry, amongst the ones which will strike fear into the paranoid will be the mandatory Kinect camera packaged with the console, and the feeling that it (and by extension, the product, and by further extension, Microsoft and their advertisers) will always be ‘watching you’ whilst using the console (or longer, if its standby features are as responsive as their planned ‘voice activation’ feature would imply).
As part of their ongoing attempts to erase such worries from their potential consumer base, Microsoft have insisted that the Xbox One’s ‘facial recognition’ feature will not store data on cloud servers, and that the imagery recorded will be limited to the individual console.
The process will see users required to sign in to their profile through an ID and password on a console not belonging to them as before, but will enable facial recognition via Kinect on those consoles if permission is given by the user for that devices.
Microsoft’s ‘director of project planning’ Albert Penello said of the feature: “Your facial stuff is locked onto your console. It’s obviously for privacy reasons. I know a lot of people have asked for it and want to figure out how to do it in the right way, but what will basically happen with your friends is, you’ll sign in with your Microsoft ID, and then you’ll get a series of options.
“Is this a console you want to log in automatically, or do you want to be prompted for a password? Do you want Kinect to recognise you with this console or not? You can decide how you want. I think what most people do with their trusted friends is not sign in with Kinect, but leave their password on it, so they can just sign in on their profile. You have control, but the face stuff – when you sign in it’s not going to recognise your face.”
He added that their product’s ability to transfer profiles and game saves between consoles (with permission) is a feature only available when the Xbox One is ‘online’ (which will be fairly regularly if you want to use it), so combined with a line-up of launch games that the company claim to be ‘the best in history’, has Microsoft clawed back some credibility for their console, or do the unsavoury features announced that remain unchanged keep customer dissatisfaction at a level too high to turn around?
Meanwhile, recent rumours have suggested that the provisional release date of the console is 8 November, while further reports have suggested that that date will see a special shipment of white consoles given to all employees who developed the Xbox One, complete with a disc drive engraving of ‘I made this’. The level of pride when reading that will vary by owner…