Did you know thanks to the Kinect motion camera, Microsoft can now see how you play your Xbox 360 games? And it wants to send this information to marketers. Not only can players see content that advertisers display, but advertisers can see who is seeing their advertisements. As Microsoft puts it, advertisers would be able to see physical characteristics of who is behind the Kinect camera, how many people there are, and how much they're moving around.
That is, they'd receive this kind of information in a strictly numerical, graphs-and-charts kind of form. Obviously no third-party would be able to say, "I want to remotely tap into that random Kinect camera." At least, we'd hope not.
Yes, Microsoft is actively promoting this to advertisers as a way to increase revenue for its Xbox division.
Of course, privacy is becoming less and less of a human right in the digital age. If you go on Facebook and say you're in a relationship with someone, advertisers will get that info.
If you add a photo to your LinkedIn profile, under default settings, everyone will be able to see it. And pretty much every store you go to now tracks every single dollar you spend if you use their shopper card.
Microsoft still has hugely high hopes for Kinect, but we can't help but see this strong push to advertisers as a sort of back-up plan, or something to hedge its bets in case the sell-through rate isn't actually all that amazing. It's a very unusual occurrence for a game company to tout a new peripheral so strongly to advertisers. Usually, the entire focus is on game makers.
If the mainstream press gets a hold of this, expect them to have a field day. We'll be more realistic and say this isn't some egregious breach of privacy. It's aggregating some algorithm-based data that Kinect is collecting anyway. But, nevertheless, like TSA full-body scanners we know this kind of power to "see" everyone who plays certain Xbox 360 games may be uneasy to some.
Ultimately, though, that's the price to pay for living in this digital age.