It’s been the elephant in the room for Xbox One for some time now, and Microsoft’s Yusuf Mehdi looks to be the one to set it stampeding.
The issue of course is the divisive Kinect 2.0, the all-seeing eye that’s set to be bundled with all Xbox One consoles come the ‘worldwide’ launch on November 22nd…
Microsoft have been keen to disregard the Kinect’s spying capabilities in recent months following recent allegations of collusion with the NSA; reports like that could be hugely damaging to the fledgling console’s chances after months of about-turns and anti-consumerist policies.
Despite this delicate situation, Mehdi - chief marketing & strategy officer - used a recent interview with AdvertisingAge to engage with advertisers on the potential for marketing in the home:
“We are trying to bridge some of the world between online and offline” He said, “That's a little bit of a holy grail in terms of how you understand the consumer in that 360 degrees of their life. We have a pretty unique position at Microsoft because of what we do with digital, as well as more and more with television because of Xbox. It's early days, but we're starting to put that together in more of a unifying way, and hopefully at some point we can start to offer that to advertisers broadly."
In spite of Microsoft’s repeated protestations that it doesn’t wish to use the data that Kinect collects from your living room, this is mounting evidence of an element of subterfuge in the quietly blinking box that could be under your telly…
Kinect has the ability to measure biometric responses to advertising, including picking up voices, noticing who is watching the TV, and even your heart rate. All of this information is sure to make potential advertisers' eyes light up. Here, for the first time, they can keep track of your every move and reaction whilst you view their premium advertising.
Microsoft’s director of product planning, Albert Penello, took to his now-familiar haunt on NeoGAF to defend Kinect’s capabilities, insisting “NuAds by definition is simply interactive advertising done on the platform. Using the functions of the console and Kinect to interact vs. just watching a spot. There’s nothing particularly interesting happening here unless you’re in the advertising business, and we’ve done a few on Xbox 360 today.“
This news is contrary to Mehdi’s comments with AdvertisingAge, as well as Lynn Watts’ (Xbox brand manager) slightly chilling confession of Kinects capabilities, saying , “How many people are in the living room? Are they taking any action based on the advertising they just saw? Can we watch the customers’ reaction, and if we can, do we have the capability of showing a different ad, or the same ad, depending on what the reaction was?”
So there we have it; keep your tin-foil hats at the ready. It really does feel like we've arrived in the future when TV is watching us back. I eagerly await my lightsaber for Christmas next year.
What do you make of Kinect’s capabilities for peering into the living-room?
Do you think Microsoft will indeed use it for focused advertising?
Does it seem an like an invasion of privacy to you?
Let us know your thoughts below!