You already knew your Kinect was watching you, but perhaps not like this. A U.S. Patent and Trademark Office filing by Microsoft reveals that the company is devising a means for your Xbox peripheral to count the number of people in the room and even identify who they are in order to assess licensing fees for content based on the number of people in the room.
In other words, the days of ordering the Mayweather fight and having 40 of your friends over to defray the cost may soon be a memory. The idea here is to create a system that can charge the user on a pay-per-view basis, but not in the same way you're used to. In this patent filing, Microsoft is talking about pay-per-viewer, or collecting fees based on the number of individuals consuming the content. Kinect figures out if it’s just you in the room, or if you have a dozen friends huddled around, soaking up your precious content. It could even use facial recognition to determine the approximate ages of those people present and halt playback of mature material if there isn’t an adult present.
Your Xbox could then automatically collect fees for the number of people watching, or it could refuse to play the content until you top up your Microsoft Points account with an adequate sum--or until you kick all your friends out.
Five amazing, clean technologies that will set us free, in this month's energy-focused issue. Also: how to build a better bomb detector, the robotic toys that are raising your children, a human catapult, the world's smallest arcade, and much more.