Privacy concern: Kinect camera always on but others can’t see you

October 25, 2010

Privacy concern: Xbox 360 Kinect camera always on but others can't see you Its a fact that the Kinect camera is always turned on and actively looking for you. Some people may have wondered if its possible for the always on camera to be secretly watching their every movement.

In an interview with Gamespot, Phil Spencer boss of Microsoft Game Studios alleviates privacy concerns regarding the Kinect camera. Kinect for the Xbox 360 is basically an advanced camera that tracks your movements.

This may raise some concerns for those paranoid that Microsoft or even some hacker could gain access via the Internet connection to spy on you in your living room. However, Spencer indicated that the camera is always on but it is in infrared mode.

GameSpot: Now some people are a little apprehensive about having a camera that can track them and recognize their faces in their living room. What do you say to those people?

Phil Spencer: Well, do you have the controls to not make it always connected to the Internet? Yes. Is the thing always looking at you? No. You’ll see when you use it that you actually stand up and wave to activate the camera. Then the camera will see you, and that has nothing to do with the RGB camera. That’s just the infrared picking us up. So it’s pretty specific when it’s looking into the room, if you want to call it that, and when it’s not.

It looks like you can disable the Kinect camera from communicating over the Web via some settings. Those imagining a switch over at Microsoft HQ that can be flicked on to monitor living rooms across America can rest easy knowing that there is no such thing.

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76 Responses to “Privacy concern: Kinect camera always on but others can’t see you”

  1. Rimmer:

    that’s ok, as long as you wear your tin foil hat the infrared beams will get reflected and confuse the device. or you could just unplug it. What’s more, how exactly would you be able to hack into the xbox that the kinect device is attached to when it is turned off?
    on a serious note, i hope there will be an option to turn the always on mode off from an energy saving point of view.

  2. phranctoast:

    It’s ok. People can just keep their strobe lights on when they don’t want to be seen ;)

  3. ncaissie:

    ” What’s more, how exactly would you be able to hack into the xbox that the kinect device is attached to when it is turned off?”

    Simple. If these hackers take games and modify them to cheat then post them on the torrent sites, then why can’t they put some homebrew to control the camera? Like a virus. After all the 360 is just a PC and was easily hacked. Then some perverted hacker with a voyeur site will have that switch.

  4. Rimmer:

    “f these hackers take games and modify them to cheat then post them on the torrent sites, then why can’t they put some homebrew to control the camera? Like a virus. After all the 360 is just a PC and was easily hacked.”
    two problems with that line of thought:
    1 – if someone is stupid enough to load hacked dodgy software onto their xobx then they deserve everything they get
    2 – it still doesn’t change the fact that when the xbox is off it can’t process any signal coming from the internet let alone process the video signal coming from kinect.

  5. Roca.:

    “You’ll see when you use it that you actually stand up and wave to activate the camera”

    seems pretty convenient LMAO

  6. Roca.:

    Also, XBL Gold members are the minority here and probably the ones who get Black Ops rather than Kinect and all of its Wii-too shovelware.

  7. ncaissie:

    “2 – it still doesn’t change the fact that when the xbox is off it can’t process any signal coming from the internet let alone process the video signal coming from kinect.”

    Turning the Xbox off defeats the purpose of the recognition shit. Why bother with Kinetic at all then?

    And lots of people download 360 games from the net. (I would guess thousands or tens of thousands.)

  8. ncaissie:

    ““You’ll see when you use it that you actually stand up and wave to activate the camera”

    seems pretty convenient LMAO”

    What does? the fact that you have to “stand up”? LMAO

  9. phranctoast:

    Of course a hacker can’t get into your 360 when it’s off. That’s just stupid.

    Although, since the 360 is based off of Windows OS, it’s well known. It makes you wonder if someone has figured out a way to break into your 360 while it’s on. If that’s the case would it be that difficult to believe someone can turn on the camera?

    *Plays twilight zone music*

  10. FahKinSuPah:

    I would like to mention the case here locally in Philly, where the school was using laptops to spy on students and take pictures of them.

    Thats what this article reminds me of

  11. Roca.:

    @CAD

    Most of your precious 360 exclusives are getting hammered review wise, and falling short of meeting expectations:

    Metacritic Review
    91 – Halo 3
    80 – Fable 3 <- most recent one
    70 – Crackdown 2
    45 – N3-2

    ^ All these games has lower score than its predecessor.

    Also, I guess HH was wrong again and Peter Moleneux, once again, could not deliever.

    well, well… another year with the PS3 producing the best quality lineup

  12. CaptBirdman:

    Guess I’m not buying Kinect. Never was, honestly, but I don’t need perverts trying to look at my immense breasts.

  13. phranctoast:

    @Roca
    wrong topic?

  14. CaptBirdman:

    @phranc

    Exactly my 1st thought haha

  15. Roca.:

    oh crap, it was meant for the other ‘review’ thread above…

  16. Barnabe Jones:

    Well if the camera is always up then I hope CAD doesn’t masturbate to Skittles in front of the TV.

  17. Liquid:

    LMAO. . .it could be worse, he could masterbate to kinectamals.

  18. Rimmer:

    “Although, since the 360 is based off of Windows OS, it’s well known. It makes you wonder if someone has figured out a way to break into your 360 while it’s on. If that’s the case would it be that difficult to believe someone can turn on the camera?”
    Once the 360 is running I am sure there is some obscure way they could hack into it if they really tried and they got the victim to install the software, but why not complain about the snooping risk with millions and millions of laptops / netbooks / smartphones / eyetoys and other devices that have built-in or attached cameras? How do you know that that webcam on your laptop isn’t being hacked into as you are reading this? Or whilst you are enjoying the move version of heavy rain, Sony aren’t secretly spying in on you via the eyetoy to see if you are using any other sony products in the house?
    Now excuse me, I need to wrap my house in chicken wire to block out the secret signals from my router before the black helicopters turn up :)

  19. SW:

    Chicken wire won’t keep the signals out, you need tinfoil smeared with peanut butter for that.

  20. Roca.:

    Kinect has some many issues that this one can be easily overlooked

  21. phranctoast:

    @Rimmer
    It could very well be happening to any of the devices that you mentioned. Just saying, since the Windows OS is the most popular it’s more likely to be hacked more thoroughly than any other OS.

  22. ncaissie:

    “LMAO. . .it could be worse, he could masterbate to kinectamals.”
    That is what Skittles is. It was the name of the little girls cat.

  23. Rimmer:

    SW – nonsense, everybody knows it’s not the peanut butter that does it, it’s the jam. Sheesh! And chicken wire does work if you use two layers of it.
    Phranctoast – No doubt that Windows is probably the most hacked OS out there, particularly XP. The point I was trying to make is that the risk is negligible regardless of the platform. What’s more, closed systems such as games consoles are a lot trickier to get into as there is no access to the system code for the user.

  24. Roca.:

    @Rimmer
    what’s your PSN ID?

  25. ncaissie:

    Rimmer is an Xbot

  26. FahKinSuPah:

    Ah I found an interesting Xbox exclusive game. It’s called Maijin and the Forsaken Kingdom. There is a demo up on Xbox now and im playing it. It’s kinda fun. The first few minutes were slow but after that I had some fun with it.

  27. Roca.:

    That game will be out on PS3 as well.

  28. phranctoast:

    I want to check out the Hot Pursuit demo. Criterion FTW!

  29. Liquid:

    when is resistance 3 going to be released?

  30. phranctoast:

    Probably end of 2011.

  31. Roca.:

    “Ah I found an interesting Xbox exclusive game. It’s called Maijin and the Forsaken Kingdom”

    You mean:

    Ah I ‘almost’ found an interesting Xbox exclusive game. It’s called…ah fuck, its also on PS3. nothing interesting on 360 I guess

  32. phranctoast:

    Be careful Roca. Happy and company are going to start thinking you and Fahkin are the same person.

    you know…

    cuz they’re fucking retarded.

  33. The Future of Sega:

    FAIL!

  34. ncaissie:

    LOL

  35. ncaissie:

    @Phranc

    How long was single player in Enslaved? 5-6 hours?

  36. phranctoast:

    It’s tough to discern. I played it over a course of three days. Yesterday, the day I played it the most was from around 8:30AM to about 4. Prior to that, I got around to chapter 3.

  37. twilight:

    Roca,
    Lol.
    Ps3 has the exclusives. Xbox360 has quite a few exclusives too. Xbox360 has Halo, Halo, Halo, and more Halo…

  38. oldschool1987:

    @ Twilight: Oh Halo? The most over rated game ever? Halo Reach was very good I’ll admit but still not as amazing as the 360 geeks make it out to be!

    Tbh tho that’s all the 360 has ain’t it? Halo and Gears. Even Fable 3 was scored pretty low for a AAA exclusive by IGN and they’re known for being in the 360 corner quite a lot.

  39. The Future of Sega:

    “Xbox360 has quite a few exclusives too. Xbox360 has Halo, Halo, Halo, and more Halo…”

    If you’re looking for trouble, you’re getting very warm! Your Halo presence will NOT be tolerated within the PS3 fanboy counsel, Gamerblorge! :D Now can you say….OWNED?? *Laughs like Beavis and butthead* lol.

  40. The Future of Sega:

    “Replying to Twilight: If you’re looking for trouble, you’re getting very warm!…”

    To all of you sick fucks out there that are probably jerking off to that comment…go fuck yourself. :D

  41. CAD:

    All of Microsoft’s Coolest Stuff Will Start at Home

    Ballmer says that Kinect will blow you away.

    Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer took part in a Q&A at Gartner and was asked a couple of questions about what the next big things are from Microsoft.

    While Ballmer did say earlier that Windows 8 was the big upcoming product risk, the company is optimistic on Windows Phone 7 to be the next billion-dollar-business.

    Ballmer was asked what he thought, out of all of Microsoft’s products, which is the “coolest thing ever.” Ballmer said that he felt that Windows Phone 7 was pretty cool, but he didn’t want to rehash his previous answer, so he pointed to the Xbox 360 Kinect as something amazing.

    Ballmer said that “people will be blown away by some of the things you can do once you have smart cameras and smart microphones in an entertainment setting, you can morph how you think about the entire entertainment experience.”

    Jesting, one of the interviewers wanted to know if it was Xbox Kinect consumer version or enterprise version.

    That got Ballmer on his feet to say “Let me help these guys; the one thing they don’t understand – COOL starts at home.”

    With Apple’s success in the consumer space, there could be a new attitude to focus on entertainment and devices, especially following up on the success of the Xbox 360.

    http://www.tomsguide.com/us/kinect-windows-phone-wp7-xbox-360,news-8455.html

  42. CAD:

    I didn’t know how cool Ballmer was. This guy is hilarious they need to get him speaking more often.

  43. CAD:

    Oh there is a video in the link. It’s a must watch.

  44. oldschool1987:

    Is it a must watch is it CAD? Must I actually watch it? lol

  45. Rimmer:

    BREAKING NEWS: CEO of company praises products they are about to release calling it the best thing ever! more after these adverts…

    Mildly amusing is more like it. about the same on the funny scale as Jobs on a good day.

  46. Roca.:

    CAD got a boner from watching Ballmer praise the 360 peripheral

  47. FahKinSuPah:

    @Roca

    Ah well when I looked up Majin on amazon it was listed as Xbox and not PS3/Xbox.

    Either way it was kinda fun, and worth checking out the demo.

    @phranc

    I loved the Hot Pursuit that came out on PS2/Xbox/Gamecube awhile ago. That one was really fun. I think I might DL the new demo and see how it is

  48. CaptBirdman:

    I just downloaded it, and I’ll provide my opinion on it in a bit.

    Stay tuned

  49. FahKinSuPah:

    I think I will do the same shortly. Watching an episode of Dirty Jobs right now

  50. FahKinSuPah:

    Its a big demo. 1.4GB on live

  51. CaptBirdman:

    OK. Played the NFS HP Demo

    Initial reaction- BLOODY FANTASTIC

    The presentation is AWESOME, and the game shows a remarkable amount of polish. There are two careers, a street racer and an officer. If I had to compare them, I’d say the police campaign is better, but that’s not to say the street racer isn’t good. Because it is. I don’t know whether it was because it was default difficulty, but the cars are extremely easy to steer. Forza and GT this ain’t, mates.

    In the racers campaign there are 3 cars to choose- Nissan 370Z, Porchse Boxter, and BMW Z4. They all handle really well and you can choose different colours. There is a female voice over that gives relally nice (and long winded) descriptions of the automobile you choose.

    The police campaign is the stand out, and I won’t ruin it by explaining, but just go download it. Hint: fight temptation, and pick the Crown Victoria. You’ll thank me later.

    I do think that in this day and age we should have 1080/60p in all racers and it’s jarring that this game is 720/30p. Don’t get me wrong, it looks brilliant, but it would look much better in Full HD.

    So– YES I’m buying this in November- 9/10

  52. FahKinSuPah:

    I am torn between the Nissan and the BMW as the first car I drive.

    Police car… Hmm Crown Vic sounds kinda old school fuzz and appropriate. You have me wondering what the other options are though lol.

    I’m DLing the demo now, while I am finishing watching this show

  53. Roca.:

    “I don’t know whether it was because it was default difficulty, but the cars are extremely easy to steer. Forza and GT this ain’t, mates.”

    it’s an arcade racer after all….

    I’ll be getting this game as well (got a 50% off coupon from EA) but I’m most excited about GT5. Here is a early review:

    http://www.3xg.co.uk/2010/10/27/review-gran-turismo-5/

  54. CaptBirdman:

    I forgot to mention (Mass Effect owners are familiar) you sign in with your EA account.

    Oh and Fah-
    the police campaign only has two cars. Tried them both, and the Crown Vic is def the way to go. You’ve seen them on the streets ( I live in L.A., so they’re as common as ants) so you know they’re beasts.

    Just so you know, there is a leaderboard for both campaigns, and I’m happy to say I’m in first, out of all my friends who downloaded it \m/__(-_-)__\m/

  55. FahKinSuPah:

    @CaptBirdman

    The Ford Crown Vic hhas been in use as police vehicles in the US for ages now. They are truly die hard cars and hold up well through abuse.

    I know alot of local cops, here in Philly, who don’t like the newer cars they got, Chevy Impalas and Dodge Chargers.

  56. FahKinSuPah:

    So a Nissan 370 Z is the other Police car… LMAO! It’s like half the size of the Crown Vic. Thats so funny

  57. FahKinSuPah:

    LMAo this sucks. I can only do the Police one cause I don’t have any friends who have played the demo on my friends list yet lol

  58. phranctoast:

    Pick it up on PSN and compare.

  59. ncaissie:

    “The Ford Crown Vic hhas been in use as police vehicles in the US for ages now. They are truly die hard cars and hold up well through abuse.”

    Same here in Canada. Now they drive chargers.

  60. FahKinSuPah:

    Hmm.. not bad. Enjoyed the cop part a bit.

    The first time I let 1 car slip by. I had to get used to the controls.. sheesh. I probably would have done better with a wheel.

    Second time I managed to take out all 4 cars in 2:51.41

  61. FahKinSuPah:

    @ncaissie

    “Same here in Canada. Now they drive chargers.”

    The chargers SUCK.

    @Roca

    how did you get a 50% off coupon from EA? I think this might be something i would buy

  62. ncaissie:

    wouldn’t it be cool if I could hold my arms out in front of me for Hours to pretend I’m driving and have the game turn with your hands?
    and have it do the gas and breaks for you when you?

  63. ncaissie:

    Then you can yell. Vroom, Vroom, Vroom to get the car moving.

  64. Roca.:

    they messed up on my Medal of Honor pre-order and gave me a 50% coupon on my next purchase. I ordered:

    *Mass Effect 2 PS3
    *Dead Space 2
    *Bulletstorm
    *Crysis 2
    *Need for Speed: Hot Persuit
    *Dragon Age 2

    ^ all for $30….keep in mind that I won’t be charged until the game is shipped so it won’t hurt my wallet that much since they are all bit spread out

  65. ncaissie:

    “and have it do the gas and breaks for you when you?”
    should be
    “and have it do the gas and breaks for you?”
    LOL

  66. ncaissie:

    @Roca
    You spend a lot of cash on games lol.
    I’m jealous.

  67. ncaissie:

    If I had your money I could burn mine.

  68. FahKinSuPah:

    @Roca

    I see you even got the Dead Space 2 Beta. How is it so far?

  69. Roca.:

    Dead Space beta is great and a really well done Multiplayer mode for Dead Space.

    The Assassins Creed beta was trash man…I won’t bother getting this game day 1.

    I think it’s time for FahKin to join the Playstation Nation…

  70. Roca.:

    @ncaissie
    “You spend a lot of cash on games lol”

    LOL and those are just the games from EA…

  71. FahKinSuPah:

    @Roca

    “I think it’s time for FahKin to join the Playstation Nation…”

    Lol. You know I prefer my Xbox. Practically the only thing I have used my PS3 for in awhile is Netflix.

    The new Netflix PS3 interface is awsome BTW. Better than the Xbox interface, which is supposed to get an overhaul soon.

    Streaming is kinda better on the 360 though.

  72. Roca.:

    “Lol. You know I prefer my Xbox”

    one of these days you will regret this ;) LOL
    but serious, must of us will enjoy playing with you online on PS3. I definitely wanted to play with you on Borderlands and CoD:WaW since you like both games as much as I do.

    Also, we can all play and enjoy games online free, no strings attached. in the end the only difference will be the TV input

  73. FahKinSuPah:

    @Roca

    And I would enjoy playing games with some of you guys too.

    I actually had thought about getting the Borderlands GoTY edition on PS3

    And I still plan on getting WaW for PS3.

  74. Roca.:

    cool…. from now on just get all your games on PS3… save your 360 for the Halos and the Gears ;)

    We’ll be playing Need for Speed soon

  75. FahKinSuPah:

    @Roca

    Come one man. Don’t insult me like that.

    You know i’m not really into Halo lol

  76. CAD:

    Wow Ellen Degeneres Rocked Dance Central

    http://ellen.warnerbros.com/microsoft-kinect/

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