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In Other News – 14 August 2014

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The Kinect 2.0 borders on alien tech, could exploit vulnerable gamers

alien technology

Across the vast lands of the internet, gamers have been raising concern about the Xbox One’s Kinect and their privacy, but do we really know just how much the Kinect 2.0 is capable of? The peeping tom super-camera is more sophisticated than we think and has the potential to take advantage of gamers when they’re mentally most vulnerable.

While our primary concerns have been that the Xbox One won’t drop the Kinect requirement and that it’ll always be watching, the Kinect’s other capabilities are undeniably impressive. These capabilities are similar to that we’ve seen in movies or never really considered to be a reality. Something that would be in thousands, maybe millions of homes much sooner than any would have thought.

Jamie Madigan, a writer who writes about the psychology of video games, published a very interesting blog on Gamasutra, discussing the possibility of the Kinect to exploit gamers’ mental exhaustion to sell them games.

Madigan starts off by mentioning some of the Kinect 2.0’s demonstrated features. It can tell where you’re looking, tell what mood you’re in from your facial expressions and even estimate your heart rate by the colour of your skin. The Kinect 2.0 will have night vision and the obvious voice recognition system. Yes, all this is pretty impressive, assuming it actually works come the time to see these features in action from the comfort of your very own home. After which it will transform into a T-1000 model and Skynet will take over the planet! *Cough!* Anyway, here’s the interesting part.

“And though it hasn’t been discussed, I wonder if the Kinect ‘s high definition camera could be programmed to measure one other important biometric: pupil dilation. This would be both awesome and worrisome, because while not exactly a mirror into our souls, the eyes can reveal a lot about what goes on in our minds. Madigan writes.”


It isn’t that far fetched either, but let’s not give Microsoft any ideas here. Pupil dilation can be used as an indicator of how hard the mind is working, when it’s working the hardest, and when it gives up because a problem is too hard to solve. It all boils down to “the more mentally taxed we are, the bigger our pupils get.”. Once the brain gives up, pupils snap back to normal size.

How is it possible to use this data in gaming through a piece of technology like the Kinect? It’s simple. The Kinect could use it to adjust game difficulty, and detect when a player is mentally tired.

“If the Kinect (or any camera) could detect pupil size, it would open up a whole new level of scaling game difficulty. A puzzle game could be made more and more difficult until you’re taxed just the right amount to get you in the zone –something psychologists call “psychological flow.” Imagine playing a rhythm game like Guitar Hero and having the game adjust the speed of the note highway until you’re pushed just to the brink of your abilities based on how hard you’re concentrating on the task.” 

The unsettling implication of this capability, according to Madigan, would be that the Kinect would be able to tell when a gamer is stressed and mentally taxed, and then use this opportunity to sell gamers stuff.

“Willpower is like a muscle that can be exhausted by any mental activity, and when it’s depleted we’re more likely to do dumb stuff like make impulse purchases”.

I doubt that should any company try use this exploit, they’d not be caught out by the masses of superior internet minds. However, I won’t exactly put it past the world we live in today to try it.

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Author:Yolanda Green

I like bacon and games, and occasionally I say something coherent about it. I'm not old or cynical, and I'm not the Dork Knight. I AM SHE-RA! Wait, what?
  • Jonah Cash

    Yeah!!!! The Kinect is your friend….. until you are vulnerable and weak and then it pounces and eats you!!! More reasons to get excited about BONE ONE….

    • Mike E. Delta

      Yes…eat me, lol =p

  • The Infamous KingKongShlong

    “and even estimate your heart rate by the colour of your skin” Brace yourselves, memes are coming.

    • Trevor Davies

      “Are you sure you should be playing a game in your condition?”
      “Damn it Kinect, there’s nothing wrong. It’s winter & my tan has faded!”

    • Sir Rants-a-Lot Llew

      What happens if you have blue skin syndrome? (aka: Argyria) and the kinect thinks you are dead?

      • Trevor Davies

        It deletes all the games from your library because they’re not transferable upon death :)

        • Sir Rants-a-Lot Llew


        • RinceWind


  • Tarisma

    Ya read about this yesterday how it will notice hat you have in your room and will pick up what you like and try sell you stuff you like. ie if you have lots of starwars posters it will try sell you starwars based games addons etc.Pretty cool but very creepy.

  • Sir Rants-a-Lot Llew

    Dun dun duuuuuuuuuuuuun.

    That’s it. I have no idea what else to say

  • Argentil

    Glasses are an option. All of this is so hypothetical though. The only real concern I have is that Kinect will activate product recognition in conjunction with invasive advertising.

    “I see your Mountain Dew levels are running low, Argentil. Allow me to redirect you to our store front, and while you’re there, would you like some Doritos to accompany your purchase?”

    • ElNicko

      Dew yes please , Doritos no thanks !!

    • Mike E. Delta

      Tying directly into the Domino’s App…Pizza Time! Xbox, Order Nao! @_@

  • Trevor Davies

    The Kinect is pretty impressive tech, I just… don’t want one in my house. Unless they give it a voice & a personality, then it can be my robot friend. I actually would like that lol.

    • Argentil

      Or girlfriend, you mean? I get it.

      • Trevor Davies

        Don’t judge me!

      • John Ambitious

        Think Jarvis

        • Vampyre Squirrel

          I just think Alt, Ctrl, Del

          • Sir Rants-a-Lot Llew

            Ctrl Alt Del* Sorry. Slight OCD

          • Admiral Chief Groot Wors

            I’m with you

          • RinceWind

            sLiGhT? Tr0LoLOl0

          • Trevor Davies


          • Sir Rants-a-Lot Llew

            lul wut?

          • Vampyre Squirrel

            Yeah… my bad, sorry.

            But I’m with Rince on this… sLiGhT?

      • RinceWind


  • ElimiNathan

    I duno, I kinda want One……..

  • John Ambitious

    I’ve got it

  • RinceWind


  • Kromas

    This looks about right.

    • Trevor Davies

      “That was a joke.” That made me lol when I heard it.

    • Mike E. Delta

      Wow, what is that…can I have one? O.o

      • BacchusZA

        Play Mass Effect (2 & 3), EDI is a character in that :)

  • Skyblue

    Oh FFS, enough about all this horsehit surrounding the Kinect 2.0. It’s part of a fucking console and will not teleport you along with a fly to another room or steal your best wankbank moments and share them on youtube or take over the damn world… FFS, enough of this crap already

    • RinceWind

      I can see why people are talking about this. If you think about it, people also spoke about the invasive nature of the cellphone before it was popular, and that has been used for almost all your examples, except maybe the fly bit :) With the more recent NSA still fresh in peoples minds I don’t think someone can just dismiss this as tinfoil hat territory.

    • Spathi

      No, but it is INTRUSIVE! Why the fuck would I want to buy a console that intrudes in my private space when I can buy a console that doesn’t do it. I DON’T WANT ADS ON MY DESKTOP OR MY XBOX.

      • gwarth

        Then don’t.

    • Argentil

      I think the drama comes from the compulsory nature of the camera, and blurred policies. I agree that yapping on about it is not constructive and annoying. MS aren’t removing it.

      • RinceWind

        Mmm, we said the same about the DRM ;)

        • Argentil

          Difference is, the camera is integrated into the development of some games already underway. That and people seem willing to settle with the camera.

          • RinceWind

            That;s the reason the raging is going on and on, settle. I won’t, but then I don’t care as I’m apparently now a Psfanboyhipsterroadkilljunkiewhoreboy :)

    • Mark Wilkes

      Well, if MS want to spy on my household they are welcome… all 4 kids running around screaming and fighting with eachother all day. MS will soon have a gigantic headache..ahahahahah..and if they can tell me the 2 teenagers moods, all the better for me!

      • Argentil

        You sadist.

    • Darren Peach

      Its people like you that allow things like this to sneak past us…….

  • Anon A Mouse

    Can’t you just do to the kinetic what you’re going to do to the blue light in front of the PS4? Tape it shut?

    • Argentil

      Might give you an error saying the Kinect can’t pick you up.

    • Sir Rants-a-Lot Llew

      Just put a pic of someone up in front of it. Wonder if it would tune you that you haven’t moved in like 3 weeks and suggests you phone an ambulance. Might even pop up an add for it on screen lol

      • Argentil

        It has depth perception, so it would recognise that the photo were a flat surface.
        Nice try though.

  • Umar Kiiroi Senk?

    Kinect: Hey…let’s play a game….

    Le vulnerable gamer: uhm….okay….

    Kinect: Okay…I spy, with my little eye…something beginning with a M

    Le vulnerable gamer:hmmm…Mouse?…no…Monkey??

    Kinect:….Invalid…answer is….

    Le vulnerable gamer: *excited*

    Kinect: Masturbate…do it..NOW….

    • Sir Rants-a-Lot Llew

      urm. I worry about you dude

      • RinceWind

        You and me both, at least there was no video!

        • Vampyre Squirrel

          It’s the small graces that save us

          • RinceWind

            I fear he is lulling us into a false sense of security, and then, BAM, Friday comes, and that’s it, game over man! Game over!

          • Trevor Davies

            Tentacles, tentacles everywhere!

          • RinceWind

            Not the tentacles again! *grabs corks, tentacle proof, HOOO!

          • Umar Kiiroi Senk?

            WHOA wait…………………………. :( no I just ….I just wanted to make a funny :(

          • RinceWind

            Hammer Bans Umar from posting videos for a week…

          • Umar Kiiroi Senk?

            But…… :( ………….

          • Sir Rants-a-Lot Llew

            Yeah, I think @Erwin_Kempff:disqus needs to whip out his hammer… I mean… urm….

          • Umar Kiiroi Senk?

            HAH! I knew it, the inner personality is coming out ….!!

          • RinceWind

            0-O Silently, and now apparently alone, carries on backing away…

          • Trevor Davies

            …says the Rebecca Black poster…

          • Umar Kiiroi Senk?

            Yeah Rebecca Black Poster!! Ban @rincethis:disqus

          • RinceWind

            You mean this? Edit: Just kidding!

          • RinceWind

            I know not of what you speak! *fingers in ears lalalalalala laaa laaa Sittinglaaaaa… InLaaaalaa theLaaaa…

      • Umar Kiiroi Senk?


    • RinceWind

      0-O Backs away with @LlewellynCrossley:disqus slowly… Don’t make contact with his, nay IT’S eyes man, don;t do it!

  • Mark Treloar

    Or studying your pupil dilation decides you are stoned and calls the cops?

  • Zubayr Bhyat


  • Mabenito

    “It can tell where you’re looking, tell what mood you’re in from your facial expressions and even estimate your heart rate by the colour of your skin” < This is racist. I'm black, so how the hell would it recognize my skin color, as if i'm gonna turn green. Where's the ANCYL, they need to hear about this.

  • BacchusZA

    So…… I’m guessing turning this thing to face the wall – Bad Kinect!! Go stand in the corner!!! – isn’t an option, until such time as you have a game with kinect features you want to play?

  • Charles Clarke

    I love how people take the advantages and development in technology and turn them against Microsoft. Its ridiculous really. I mean come on. Its better technology for gaming, sure and it can be applied elsewhere. Robots are learning to do activities from the kinect watching people doing them and reproducing the algorithms. Its brilliant.

    • Darren Peach

      You forget, Microsoft is such a huge lumbering mass of Capitalist extortion that they need to develop new ways of tapping into the marketplace to stay relevant and not fold which would no doubt have a negative impact on the economy world wide, Hence the rationale of this article. Its all about selling more MS crap. The 360 is a good gaming device, Period. But this new thing is a unit designed around advertising product and media content that we don’t really need. Its like watching a Michael Bay Ad….errr Film.

  • Darren Peach

    I am sure at some point in the future, This practice will be deemed unethical, A violation of privacy and human rights and Kinect in its soon to be configuration will be a thing of the past. Its invasive technology that draws immediate suspicion and concern from many. That is not a good thing. I for one am slowly starting to dislike it even more now than I ever thought I would. We live in a world where there is so much new tech coming along, certain things are bound to raise the ire of the masses. DRM, Micro transactions, Always on-line to be able to play single player games, DLC that adds no value etc etc etc.
    What purpose does it serve to have our whole lives recorded and stored on a database somewhere ? The answer is solely for understanding what we as individuals like and to be able to specifically target our specific wants.. Now, This may seem like the mind of a conspiracy theorist nut Job but it is slowly happening. Just take a look at how Google seems to know what you like, You tube recommends videos based on what you have watched before.
    It is completely harmless noise, But can you imagine the implication if used against you in a malicious manner ? But, I give humanity the benefit of doubt, We are good ?……Aren’t we ?

  • Sentient_Slug

    Oh God, this is a serious stretch….

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