Kinect: Trojan Horse for Marketing

xbox spy The Wall Street Journal has revealed that Microsoft’s new Kinect video game extender is a means for increasing the spying capacities of corporate marketers:

Dennis Durkin, who serves as chief operating officer and chief financial officer for Microsoft’s Xbox video game business, told investors Thursday that Kinect – which allows users to play video games without so much as a joystick – presents business opportunities for targeted game marketing and advertising.

Kinect is a camera peripheral that plugs into the Xbox 360 console and allows players to control games with only body movements. The system uses facial recognition technology to sign in players and match them with their avatars and profiles.

But the technology can also be put to use beyond those purposes, Durkin said in a presentation at an investors conference sponsored by BMO Capital Markets.
“We can cater which content we present to you based on who you are,” Durkin said. “How many people are in the room when an ad is shown? How many people are in the room when a game is being played? When you add this sort of device to a living room, there’s a bunch of business opportunities that come with that.”

Such a system also could raise questions about privacy. In the past few months, targeted online advertising has been facing increasing scrutiny, and the use of cameras and facial recognition would push such technology into a new realm.

And dig this attempt at spin Microsoft sent to the WSJ after it broke this important story:

UPDATE: Microsoft emailed the following statement about its current policies regarding privacy and Xbox: “Xbox 360 and Xbox LIVE do not use any information captured by Kinect for advertising targeting purposes. Microsoft has a strong track record of implementing some of the best privacy protection measures in the industry. We place great importance on the privacy of our customers’ information and the safety of their experiences.”

Does Microsoft say it is not and will never be selling such invaluable, long-dreamed-of marketing data to any parties? No. In fact, it doesn’t even say Microsoft isn’t now collecting and using them. It merely says “Xbox 360” (whatever that is beyond a name for a machine) and “Xbox Live” “do not.”

The rest, of course, is the usual laughfest of jive-talk and improper comparison: “some of the best privacy protection measures in the industry.” ROFLMFAO.

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