Kinect Camera Data Could Be Sold for Ad Targeting

Microsoft has detected that you need a new sofa, stat


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When the multinational corporation began tempting us to purchase a network-connected camera to place in our living rooms, the Orwellian parts of us should have predicted this: Microsoft is hinting that it would like to use the Kinect to better target its content to users. That means gathering data from the camera – everything from basic demographics to what shirt you’re wearing – and use it to tailor its media offerings. That is, to better cater marketing to you by allowing marketers access to Kinect-driven data.

That’s not to say that Microsoft is toying with ideas that other companies like Facebook don’t already employ, nor does it mean your Kinect is spying on you right now (although it could be – it’s probably best just not to think about it). But at a conference last week Microsoft’s Dennis Durkin, a VP in the company’s interactive department, said at a conference he would like to use the Kinect to better target the media and advertising it presents to users.

Durkin’s example: among people watching a sporting event, Kinect could differentiate between what jerseys they are wearing and deduce what team or teams they support (it would ostensibly do all this while also determining how many people are watching, the gender and age breakdown of the room, etc.). Advertisers could then target all or part of that group of people.

As DigitalTrends points out, that’s not so different from what Facebook ads do, though culling information from a public profile someone voluntarily puts on the Web is a bit different than watching someone watch TV in their skivvies at four in the morning.

Microsoft, in response, has made it clear that no data from the Kinect is being used for marketing purposes. But by toying with the idea that it might sometime in the future the company is more or less admitting that it could do so if it wanted to. This seems unlikely to go over well with privacy advocates, and may run afoul of President Obama’s new Internet privacy policy office, if and when one finally materializes.