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Will Microsoft Dis-Kinect Freeloading TV Viewers?

samzenpus posted about 2 years ago | from the watching-the-watchers dept.

Microsoft 478

theodp writes "Just when you think the cable TV viewing experience couldn't get any worse, GeekWire reports on the Microsoft Xbox Incubation team's patent-pending Consumer Detector, which uses cameras and sensors like those in the Xbox 360 Kinect controller to monitor, count and in some cases identify the people in a room watching television, movies and other content. Should the number of viewers detected exceed the limits of a particular content license, the system would halt playback unless additional viewing rights were purchased."

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Masking tape (4, Insightful)

surmak (1238244) | about 2 years ago | (#41879701)

Over the camera should solve the problem.

Re:Masking tape (5, Insightful)

JustOK (667959) | about 2 years ago | (#41879715)

"No one is watching. Guess I'll turn off then."

Re:Masking tape (4, Interesting)

dintech (998802) | about 2 years ago | (#41879861)

There's something very Orwellian about all of this. If content providers had their way, there would be a laser pointer on top of the Kinect with which to blind any people in the room who aren't supposed to be watching.

1984 was about big brother government but when corporations effectively write the laws of government anyway, perhaps we don't need to make a distinction. The only difference it seems is that corporations have absolutely no pretense about looking after the people.

Re:Masking tape (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41879889)

Huxley, not Orwell. No one is forced to own/watch television.

Re:Masking tape (3, Insightful)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | about 2 years ago | (#41880101)

The way that corporate media critics like Howard Kurtz have kept a blind eye to this is with the excuse that "only governments can sensor people, not corporations."

Sorry, in the era where your only gateway to the mass audience is through companies owned by 4-5 people corporate owned media CAN censor, and even if you don't believe this it's impossible to argue that they can't have deep influence or outright set the agenda of what is discussed.

Re:Masking tape (3, Insightful)

vettemph (540399) | about 2 years ago | (#41879915)

Masking tape over the camera, Punch a hole in the tape so the camera can see the owner but not the whole room. :)

Re:Masking tape (3, Insightful)

XxtraLarGe (551297) | about 2 years ago | (#41879719)

If it can't identify anyone, I'm sure it will say that it is unable to play the content.

Re:Masking tape (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41879767)

Today's my turn to watch the movie without wearing the burqa!

Re:Masking tape (3, Insightful)

silvershadow (101700) | about 2 years ago | (#41879723)

Or simply disconnect it.

Re:Masking tape (2)

The MAZZTer (911996) | about 2 years ago | (#41879725)

Presumably this "solution" would include refusing to work if the Kinect is broken or "broken".

Re:Masking tape (1)

Zemran (3101) | about 2 years ago | (#41879859)

So if your device has a simple problem like a dirty lens it dies completely? Another good reason not to buy one...

Re:Masking tape (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41880011)

If, by "dies", you mean "gives some grace period, before displaying a warning to clean/unobstruct the lens, before shutting down", then yes.

But yes, that's still a good reason not to buy one.

Re:Masking tape (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41879807)

Can it identify a photograph and a real person ?

  If not, it's easily hackable...

http://it.slashdot.org/story/12/06/18/184217/samsung-galaxy-s3-face-unlock-tricked-by-photograph

Re:Masking tape (4, Informative)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 2 years ago | (#41879849)

Can it identify a photograph and a real person ?

  If not, it's easily hackable...

http://it.slashdot.org/story/12/06/18/184217/samsung-galaxy-s3-face-unlock-tricked-by-photograph

The 'kinect' sensor package includes pretty robust(for the price) depth detection. There are also a fair number of demo applications with adequate-if-not-exactly-perfect facial expression tracking.

It would probably add some false negatives; but the hardware capabilities are there to reject all 2D fakes, as well as weeding out 3D fakes that are inhumanly static...

Re:Masking tape (1)

vlm (69642) | about 2 years ago | (#41879883)

Good point AC. Wish you had an account logged in so you'd get credit.

I've been planning an "art project" by putting a crime scene photo in front of the Kinect when its supposedly not being used. Then report on what happens (if anything) and when it happens. Assuming the swat team doesn't kill everyone in the house in order to save us as they often do. I'm going to make an (psuedo) anonymous blog and will report back to /. once all this is set up. The main problem I'm facing is I think crime scene photos are gross but worth keeping around for this art project, but I don't think the wife and kids will approve of the project enough to have a really gross icky pix laying around the living room. Maybe I'm thinking an LED illuminated box fitting over the kinect with the crime scene photo inside, so no one has to look at it. I've gotten much more european in my sensibilities as I've grown up, such that I think pr0n is now acceptable but blood and guts are now unacceptable for entertainment purposes, but I can't figure out how to make an "art project" like this using pr0n that wouldn't be too obviously fake (oh look, mr goatse lives at VLM's house... wait a sec, WTF is he a statue now? Or has his hide been stuffed and mounted (oh god the puns)) and would actually result in a response.

Re:Masking tape (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41880167)

Don't forget to order some tinfoil hats. I mean really - do you actually think someone is monitoring your Kinect. Boy if I believed that I would disconnect the one my kids have. But "because reality" - we know it isn't being monitored.

Re:Masking tape (4, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 2 years ago | (#41879811)

Over the camera should solve the problem.

Normal technology is designed to fail as robustly as possible. Since video input is non-essential to media playback, graceful degradation and continued operation would be trivial.

DRM isn't normal technology. It's technology that is designed to fail as dramatically as possible. Expect any minor anomalies in the 'trusted' system state to be treated as catastrophic and absolutely incompatible with continued playback.

Re:Masking tape (4, Insightful)

EdIII (1114411) | about 2 years ago | (#41879845)

What it's absolutely incompatible with is my wallet.

This shit is hilarious. People put up with the XBOX360 to play games. The moment scenes like this play out, people will just stop using it and go elsewhere. Laptop and Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, Piracy, whatever...

These people that are coming up with shit like this are insane. Even the most unsophisticated consumer sheep is going to lose it the day playback stops because their friend walked in.

Re:Masking tape (3, Insightful)

1s44c (552956) | about 2 years ago | (#41879903)

These people that are coming up with shit like this are insane.

It's true, yet they keep coming up with shit like this.

After decades abusing customers maybe Microsoft have come to the conclusion that they can do anything and people will put up with it.

Re:Masking tape (2)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | about 2 years ago | (#41880069)

After decades abusing customers maybe apple also google have come to the conclusion that they can do anything and people will put up with it.

see, it applies to any large co that continues down the path of 'owning you'.

Re:Masking tape (4, Insightful)

faedle (114018) | about 2 years ago | (#41880173)

Do you even see the irony in your own statement?

On the one hand, you groan about "people put up with the XBOX360.." and then say "consumer sheep is going to lose it". You do realize that most 'consumer sheep' won't, in fact, "lose it", and you prove the point with your snide remark about the XBOX platform.

This isn't going to be enforced the way you think. It's likely not going to stop playing just because somebody walked in. Where this is going to be used is for things like pay-per-view sporting events and premium content services. This is primarily here to prevent a bar (or similar venue) from buying the consumer-priced-for-home-viewing $90 wrestling fight. (typically, bars and the like pay higher prices based upon their foot traffic) And people won't lose it: they'll pony up the money like they always have. You will have a small number that will complain, but they won't complain that loudly.

Re:Masking tape (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41879827)

Stick a photo of a person/family in front of the kinect.

If they then do motion detection to see if it looking at a photo, look into using ADA and sue for discrimination of paralyzed people.

Re:Masking tape (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41879831)

Point the camera at a diorama of a couple sitting in front of a TV.

Re:Masking tape (1)

interkin3tic (1469267) | about 2 years ago | (#41879991)

Or not buying a microsoft kinect since they evidently have snapped up the exclusive rights to it.

Re:Masking tape (1)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | about 2 years ago | (#41880055)

wait, people WILLINGLY put cameras into boxes, in their living rooms?

WHY?

is the 'shiny' so great that you would consider this?

I admit I have a hard timing understanding what they would offer to get people to bring a box with a camera (and other 'sensors') into their living room.

you folks need to rethink what you are trading.

they already convinced you that a camera on a phone is a 'great idea' and built in webcams on laptops, too. neither of which I prefer and both of which I disable (either with soldering irons or tape).

Re:Masking tape (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41880183)

wait, people WILLINGLY put cameras into boxes, in their living rooms?

WHY?

is the 'shiny' so great that you would consider this?

I admit I have a hard timing understanding what they would offer to get people to bring a box with a camera (and other 'sensors') into their living room.

you folks need to rethink what you are trading.

they already convinced you that a camera on a phone is a 'great idea' and built in webcams on laptops, too. neither of which I prefer and both of which I disable (either with soldering irons or tape).

Every cell phone and consumer laptop has a camera on it, as well as recording devices. So this is different... how?

Re:Masking tape (1)

singingjim1 (1070652) | about 2 years ago | (#41880187)

Paranoid much?

Re:Masking tape (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41880105)

Over the camera should solve the problem.

Tampering detected, TV shuts off and you're fucked.
Nice future that awaits us.

Will Kinects be dis-kinected during movie-fests? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41879711)

Yup.

Next!

Re:Will Kinects be dis-kinected during movie-fests (3, Interesting)

leuk_he (194174) | about 2 years ago | (#41879813)

next?

auto pause when nobody is watching.

Note: advertisements can not be skipped, advertisements are mandatory.

You do not want to fight your customers!

Re:Will Kinects be dis-kinected during movie-fests (4, Insightful)

gstoddart (321705) | about 2 years ago | (#41879823)

You do not want to fight your customers!

With the caveat that the customers are the advertisers, and the people who watch are just there to keep the seats warm and bump the Nielsen ratings.

Re:Will Kinects be dis-kinected during movie-fests (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41880079)

next?

auto pause when nobody is watching.

Note: advertisements can not be skipped, advertisements are mandatory.

You do not want to fight your customers!

At last! A legitimate use for my RealDoll.

She can watch the ads while I take a bathroom break.

more copying (5, Insightful)

jbmartin6 (1232050) | about 2 years ago | (#41879727)

I am enthusiastic about Microsoft's apparent desire to increase illegal copying.

Re:more copying (1)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about 2 years ago | (#41879835)

Of course.. Anything to give the cops 'probable cause' to knock your door down can only be a good thing.

Re:more copying (2)

Nyder (754090) | about 2 years ago | (#41879923)

Of course.. Anything to give the cops 'probable cause' to knock your door down can only be a good thing.

Cops don't need "probable cause" to knock on your door. They can, legally, knock on your door any time.

Re:more copying (5, Funny)

Nyder (754090) | about 2 years ago | (#41879925)

Of course.. Anything to give the cops 'probable cause' to knock your door down can only be a good thing.

Cops don't need "probable cause" to knock on your door. They can, legally, knock on your door any time.

fuck i'm an idiot, i need to learn to read better.

Re:more copying (1)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about 2 years ago | (#41880047)

I can assure you, you are not alone :-)

Re:more copying (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41880077)

Mistakes happen to (nearly) everybody so I for one commend you for integrity.

Re:more copying (1)

hardburlyboogerman (161244) | about 2 years ago | (#41880139)

They do here.This is a stand your ground state and I'm armed to the teeth.Besides,I know all the local cops.They know me,too.I keep their computers running.

Re:more copying (1)

jellomizer (103300) | about 2 years ago | (#41879867)

You could consider this patent as a protection patent. Where the feature Microsoft will never release. However is some lame Cable Company or broadcast company does it, then Microsoft can sue them for patent infringement.

Re:more copying (3, Insightful)

JWW (79176) | about 2 years ago | (#41880103)

You could consider it that.

But its more than likely Microsoft is planning on bragging up this patent at the Movie and Cable companies in exchange for exclusive deals to play their movies.

This patent is fucking obscene.

If protecting the sale (sorry "licensing") of your product needs police state tools, no one should respect your right to do business at all....

Re:more copying (1)

hardburlyboogerman (161244) | about 2 years ago | (#41880115)

MIcro$oft is sure intent on shooting themselves in the foot.How many people with an ounce of common sense would put up with this.I won't I'll find a way to make sure that Micro$oft gets a loud and clear "FUCK YOU" from me

Re:more copying (1)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | about 2 years ago | (#41880137)

This virtually assures that I will never use a Microsoft service to watch digital content.

buh bye...

I will vote by not moving my feet and buying your xbox console or "kinect enabled" television.

..Or the other way around (2)

JanneM (7445) | about 2 years ago | (#41879733)

Or do it the other way around: count the number of people present and facing the screen during commercials. Refuse to show the program if the number of viewers exceed that of the break.

Re:..Or the other way around (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41879837)

That idea is actually worth another patent, if only to stop companies actually implementing it.

Re:..Or the other way around (2)

Teresita (982888) | about 2 years ago | (#41879875)

In Soviet Russia, xbox watches YOU.

Well ... (2)

gstoddart (321705) | about 2 years ago | (#41879735)

Well, between the ads and other crap Microsoft has been injecting into my XBox lately ... it might be time to log it out of my network and leave it disconnected. Ads in video games is starting to piss me off, and the on-line functionality isn't something I need to make use of.

And the idea of actually licensing based on how many people are in the room has been a goal of the content industry for quite a while. But I sure as hell don't plan on facilitating them.

Why would someone buy that? (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41879739)

The best way to keep this technology out of your homes is to refuse to purchase it.

Re:Why would someone buy that? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41879977)

Right... because that worked so well with Apple's control over everyone's tablets and phones. People just "refused to purchase it".

Oh wait... they actually bought DRMed shit in drove and made Apple the most valuable technology company the world has ever seen.

Most people don't care about what slashdotters care about.

Re:Why would someone buy that? (1)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | about 2 years ago | (#41880129)

I have not bought a video game in decades. I gave that shit up. don't need it, can easily live without it and the companies are not worth supporting. its a huge waste of time and there are so many other things (yes, even online) that can make more productive use (and fun use!) of your time.

sony is on my blacklist and its been at least 10 years since I bought anything sony. they don't have any products that I 'must have' and so I don't help them with their evil regime. my money does not go to them.

no cable or sat tv, here, either; cut the cord about 5 years ago.

its not hard to reject bad business models and avoid the products and companies that try to rule over you.

there are so many things to keep you busy in life, video games just don't make sense (to me) anymore. you have such limited time in life, as it is. why waste it when its mostly about making some larger company richer? and enslaving you, bit by bit.

we are lucky that, today, there are so many things that we can pick to occupy our time and energy. sitting around the tv is just not that appealing (to many of us) anymore. and that includes playing console or computer games with 'logins' and drm and credit cards that you register online.

easy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41879741)

stick a photo in front on the nosy thing. or cover half the view in case is motion sensitive.

Useless Patent (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41879743)

Dis-kinect the Kinect and watch the movie. Reconnect when done. Cover the lens of the Kinect when watching movie, then uncover. Mod the Kinect to always see nothing. It's a useless patent. If all else fails rent the movie on DVD. If even this fails then get creative with the license with dvdjohn.

Going after your customers with a patent is expensive, counterproductive and loses you money.

Dis-kinect the spy camera? (1)

Scott Swezey (678347) | about 2 years ago | (#41879761)

I don't see why I need a kinect plugged in to watch TV... unplug the thing and problem solved. Any service that requires the use of kinect to watch their service? Don't sign up and they will find their own way out of existence.

Re:Dis-kinect the spy camera? (2)

LihTox (754597) | about 2 years ago | (#41879899)

What if they start building the Kinect technology directly into cable boxes, or televisions?

Re:Dis-kinect the spy camera? (1)

Scott Swezey (678347) | about 2 years ago | (#41879959)

What if they start building the Kinect technology directly into cable boxes, or televisions?

Don't buy it. There is plenty of competition on the market.

Re:Dis-kinect the spy camera? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41880185)

"What if they start building anti-ad-skip technology directly into DVD players?"
"Just don't buy it."

"What if they start building DRM into every blu-ray player?"
"Just don't buy it".

The problem is, there is NOT plenty of competition. Where, in the USA, can I buy a DRM-free blu-ray player?

Eventually, all players will include this technology as well. And people will buy it just like they bought DRMed blue-ray players. Just like they bought Diablo-III that requires permission every time you play it.

I don't mean to bring race into this, but... (2)

Hsien-Ko (1090623) | about 2 years ago | (#41879763)

I can see why this won't work.

Just when I think MS can't get more creepy (4, Funny)

crazyjj (2598719) | about 2 years ago | (#41879777)

I'm just surprised Sony didn't come up with it first.

problem solved! (1)

Shavano (2541114) | about 2 years ago | (#41879783)

Place a picture of one person on a couch in front of the kinect .

Our Solution (2)

StoneyMahoney (1488261) | about 2 years ago | (#41879785)

Whenever we're not using it, the Kinect will be turned around to face some porn!

Re:Our Solution (2)

vlm (69642) | about 2 years ago | (#41879911)

Whenever we're not using it, the Kinect will be turned around to face some porn!

I like your targeted ads.

Re:Our Solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41880057)

Whenever we're not using it, the Kinect will be turned around to face some porn!

Just make sure it isn't an orgy.

why would anyone buy this? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41879797)

Why would anyone buy a device that does this and gives no benefit to the user?
At least with steam I get the benefit of being able to download my games, and not have to deal with CD keys and discs in the disc drive.
I also don't need to worry about cracks and viruses.

With this I get no benefit over pirating.

Re:why would anyone buy this? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41879891)

You wouldn't. You'd get it anyway... this is end point of DRM. 1984-type monitoring of your viewing for the purposes of license enforcement.

It's insane of course... but when has that ever stopped media companies. My prediction: first company to implement it widely... Apple... to the drooling, slobbering worshipful acclaim of their users no doubt.

Re:why would anyone buy this? (2)

vlm (69642) | about 2 years ago | (#41879989)

Why would anyone buy a device that does this and gives no benefit to the user?

My marketing guess is it'll be slid in with something psuedo-appealing.

Like a sorta-interactive exercise TV show where trainers try to motivate real world viewers to do stupid exercises while watching live and the least effective/motivational physical trainer as reported by kinect is voted out each week. Frankly I'd rather watch the pr0n equivalent version. Some vaguely gladiatorial combat thing with the viewers holding thumbs up or thumbs down might be cool. Or again, the pr0n version, literal thumbs up or thumbs down for "amihotornot" interactive TV show.

I don't have enough kinect experience to know if it can detect money shots and thumbs up/down and all that.

Regardless, it'll be something "cool" like that which also coincidentally has the turbo-mega-ultra-i-e-cloud-DRM feature. Not just "surprise, here's something that sucks, hope ya like it" although microsoft gets away with it at almost every software release so maybe, maybe...

From Great to Creepy in such a short time (2)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41879799)

More than just the annoyance of a device interrupting my media, I am really feeling creeped out that something we purchased is being used as a "law enforcement" tool against us. Like a sensor in our cars that automatically phones the police when excessive speed is detected. (Woohoo! First car analogy!)

Well, crap... (5, Funny)

PieEye (667629) | about 2 years ago | (#41879809)

...guess I'll have to move out of my hall of mirrors. "You are licensed for two viewers...we show 185 currently watching this program."

Typical dual use technology (4, Interesting)

vlm (69642) | about 2 years ago | (#41879815)

Typical dual use technology

Multinational megacorp : 1984 is closer every year, lets monitor and track and dehumanize, all to protect us from terrorists and "Its For The Children(tm)" and we'll purchase govt legislators to legislate our profits into perpetuity and damn the peons, some citizens like corporations are more equal than other citizens like meatbags

Open source mythtv implementation : webcam detects wife entering the room, automatic hands off instant channel change from "Naughty Cheerleaders Car Wash 2012" to "CSPAN". I'm actually kinda surprised no one has implemented this yet. With all the video processing being done in VDPAU the CPU needs something to do to keep warm in the winter, and webcams are cheap, and prototype open source cam monitoring software already exists so ...

Re:Typical dual use technology (5, Funny)

Chatsubo (807023) | about 2 years ago | (#41879917)

You can bet your ass at some stage this will lead to your wife asking: "Why are you jerking off to C-SPAN?"

Re:Typical dual use technology (1)

vlm (69642) | about 2 years ago | (#41880053)

Insert bad Sarah Palin joke. (are there any good ones?)

Re:Typical dual use technology (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41880113)

And the response: "Wait...You don't?"

Re:Typical dual use technology (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41879939)

Because most of us aren't little pussies watching porn and hiding it like a cowardly 14 year old in their parents house. Be a man and watch your porn (with your wife!) or don't, but don't be a child.

Re:Typical dual use technology (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41879949)

If a larger percentage of people doing open source development actually had wives this might see more dev time, but alas - I don't see it getting much attention. Maybe if it detects mom coming down the stairs.

Re:Typical dual use technology (1)

vlm (69642) | about 2 years ago | (#41880117)

... alas - I don't see it getting much attention. Maybe if it detects mom coming down the stairs.

Hmm that's a good one AC you actually inspired a genuine good idea to implement. Like most mythtv users, I have a zillion recording groups (for non myth users, these are like independent selectable virtual DVRs, sorta) for all combinations of family members and "video list" directories categorized by family member combinations... Mythtv sees "Mom" "Dad" and "Son" on couch, analyzes Venn diagrams, suggests best bet to play back is "Iron Chef" vs if if was just "Dad" and "Son" mythtv would analyze our preferences and suggest "Mythbusters".

commercial tv packages bill by fire code capacity (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about 2 years ago | (#41879829)

commercial tv packages bill by fire code capacity or per hotel room not by person.

Re:commercial tv packages bill by fire code capaci (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41880127)

for now.....

Oblig PA (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41879869)

Obligatory:

http://penny-arcade.com/comic/2001/04/04 [penny-arcade.com]

Easy Solution (1)

ZeroSerenity (923363) | about 2 years ago | (#41879881)

Dis-Kinect the Kinect.

But in all seriousness, doesn't the Kinect only ID two persons at once?

This would have to be voluntary (1)

bleh-of-the-huns (17740) | about 2 years ago | (#41879901)

There is no way this could be forced onto the populace. For example, I do not have the Kinect, or any other input device other then the controllers (I did download the smart glass app so I can use my phones keyboard). This would not work on me.

More to the point, this would increase the chances of me never purchasing such a device, which in turn means I would not purchase any games that require such a device (are there any Kinect only games other then the ones that were developed in conjunction with it to show off the capabilities?). That is a cascading loss of revenue for anything related.

Now, if say MS and the cable companies got together, and offered a significant discount (I mean like 30 to 50%, not $5 off a month) on your monthly cable bill to voluntarily use this technology and abide by its restrictions, I can see that possibly being popular. There are rarely more then 2 people watching anything at one time in my house. (3 if you count the 6 month old). Even more so, when the TV is on, many times both my wife and I are working and using our laptops so we are not even looking at the TV (provides background noise to keep the dogs from going nuts everytime they hear something outside).

Re:This would have to be voluntary (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41880019)

There is no way this could be forced onto the populace. For example, I do not have the Kinect, or any other input device other then the controllers (I did download the smart glass app so I can use my phones keyboard). This would not work on me.

More to the point, this would increase the chances of me never purchasing such a device, which in turn means I would not purchase any games that require such a device (are there any Kinect only games other then the ones that were developed in conjunction with it to show off the capabilities?). That is a cascading loss of revenue for anything related.

Now, if say MS and the cable companies got together, and offered a significant discount (I mean like 30 to 50%, not $5 off a month) on your monthly cable bill to voluntarily use this technology and abide by its restrictions, I can see that possibly being popular. There are rarely more then 2 people watching anything at one time in my house. (3 if you count the 6 month old). Even more so, when the TV is on, many times both my wife and I are working and using our laptops so we are not even looking at the TV (provides background noise to keep the dogs from going nuts everytime they hear something outside).

No it would not. You wouldnt have to buy a kinect to be subjected to this. The hardware will be built into your Cable decoder box. When you rent the device from your cable provider the "feature" will already be there.

Much like you dont have to buy seperate card reader hardware for it to read decoder cards.

Re:This would have to be voluntary (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41880033)

There is no way this could be forced onto the populace.

That's what we all said about Apple. "No way will anybody let a multinational corporation decide what software they are permitted to run".

That's what we said about Amazon. "No way will anybody let a multinational corporation remove content they have purchased from their own E-reader".

Yet, here we are.

History says they won't need to force this onto the population. The population will lap it up like a thirsty dog.

Duct tape has yet another use (1)

JustNiz (692889) | about 2 years ago | (#41879953)

Simple solution: Find the camera lens and duct tape over it.

Re:Duct tape has yet another use (1)

Jason Levine (196982) | about 2 years ago | (#41880179)

Kinect's likely answer to the simple solution: "Camera error. Locking out all media playback."

Disconnect the Kinect device (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41879967)

Why not just simply unplug the Kinect device?

number of viewers (1)

Nyder (754090) | about 2 years ago | (#41879983)

I wasn't aware of any content you buy that is limited in the number of viewers watching, unless we are talking about showing a movie or something to the public. In fact, this sort of scares me. Is this the next step? You got to pay to watch stuff with more then 1 viewer?

"This movie cost $3.50 per person watching, we noticed you have 3 people watching, your account with be charged $10.50 plus appropriate taxes for this movie."

What I see is an excuse for more price gouging.by the media companies.

Assholes (1)

arielCo (995647) | about 2 years ago | (#41879985)

First they changed from selling to "licensing", to further control what you can do with their precious content in the name of "stopping piracy" (as if copyright didn't cover that). Now they want you to pay per head, and check your living room to milk you further if you play wise and bring a few friends over: "This motion picture is licensed for up to 4 viewers.Playback will resume when you upgrade . (or tell two of your freeloading friends to go do something else)".

Also:

a separate Microsoft patent application last year described a system for using sensors to estimate age based on the proportions of their body.

What about achondroplastic dwarves? People under a blanket? Odd postures? Will you have to sit up straight in plain view for Kinect to validate you?

Re:Assholes (1)

Errol backfiring (1280012) | about 2 years ago | (#41880083)

Odd postures?

You should not read the Kama Sutra while watching television anyway.

Patent != intention (5, Informative)

tambo (310170) | about 2 years ago | (#41879987)

This article makes a mistake that I've seen a hundred times before on Slashdot: confusing "the patent says...", and "the patentee intends to..."

I write software patents for a living. (I didn't write this one.) Let me describe how the patent drafting process goes.

A client comes to me with a simple invention - we'd like to do (A), (B), and (C) to achieve result (X). I talk to them at length about what (ABC) is, and what critically sets (ABC) apart from every similar example. I ask questions about how each of (A), (B), and (C) could be varied; what other elements (D), (E), and/or (F) could be added; and whether (ABC) could also be used for results (Y) or (Z).

And when I write up the patent application, EVERYTHING goes in there. (ABC) is described as the base invention, but all of the other material about (D), (E), (F), (X), (Y), and (Z) is also included as optional extensions or uses of (ABC).

Now, here's the critical thing: I haven't fully considered whether (D) is a desirable feature, or whether (Y) is a desirable result. My client doesn't even know, or says, "we don't really intend to implement (D) or do (X)." None of that is relevant. All that matters is: They are all logical, valid extensions of (ABC), so, typically, they all go in. Anything that could make the basic technique more valuable, appear more useful, or might more fully distinguish (ABC) over known techniques is helpful to add to the specification.

I read this patent the same way. The basic invention is: "Use a camera to count and identify people interacting with a device." Now, you can't just stop there - you haven't said what that information might be used for, and the patent office typically rejects applications that look like, "The technique is: Generate some data." So the patent discloses several uses of that information. That doesn't mean that Microsoft has any interest in using that technique - only that it's logically achievable from the basic techniques.

Look, we all agree that technology is neutral, right? For example, DRM has been *used* for lots of obnoxious purposes (including limiting fair-use rights), but the basic technology of DRM is neither good nor bad - it just is. The same principle applies here.

Re:Patent != intention (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41880067)

Common sense. On Slashdot. I'm gobsmacked.

Re:Patent != intention (1)

Errol backfiring (1280012) | about 2 years ago | (#41880099)

You forget it is Microsoft we are talking about. Whenever they mention "scalability", they mean the bill can be scaled indefiniately.

Good motivation to reject TV (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41880003)

It has become time to actually boycott all TV. Screw these greedy ass control freaks.

Up yours. Now maybe I can get some "Self Directed " thinking done.

Little people beware (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41880025)

FTFA:
"The system could also take into account the age of viewers, limiting playback of mature content to adults, for example. This patent application doesn’t explain how that would work, but a separate Microsoft patent application last year described a system for using sensors to estimate age based on the proportions of their body."

So i'm a small guy.... 5'5 145 lbs. Its bad enough I am 27 and still get carded for beer and tobacco. It looks like soon I will have Microsoft telling me I can't watch porn because the camera thinks I am 15.

From R&D (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41880029)

"Hey guys, I think I found yet another way we can be annoying dicks and make a lot of money from other annoying dicks from licensing fees!"

Biased (1)

Twillerror (536681) | about 2 years ago | (#41880037)

"Just when you think the cable TV viewing experience couldn't get any worse..."

I have DirectTV which could be considered cable I suppose. I also have Netflix, Hulu Plus, and a Roku box with some other stuff. My DirectTV box supports Youtube for that occasional time I want to watch Gangam style on the big screen.

I have a DVR and I love my cable "experience". My box has a basic search, but it's good enough. It records fine. I get all the shows just fine. I rarely get weather issues and never get "buffering..." messages. Add in ondemand.

Lets not confuse experience with price. We have also become a super cheap bunch. The same person that lays down 2k for an Apple laptop will complain about 100 dollar cable bill. I've spent more on dinner for a few friends then my cable bill. To bad we can't pipe our cable in from China huh?

At the same time people love their fast Internet cable modem...at this point about the best we got. Fiber at the kind of scales we need it is just not practical...and honestly coax could rival it as we move more and more spectrum to the cable modem.

What I don't understand is why Netflix doesn't offer a premium service. Offer me a 50 dollar a month plan and get the good stuff and get it faster. The real question, are our cheap asses willing to pay for what we want or not?

All that said this Kinnect thing is stupid and would never fly...and probably just someone trying to get on slashdot.

Microsoft (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41880061)

Here's an idea--STOP BUYING MICROSOFT PRODUCTS. These people are terrible, and their products are terrible. Let them rot.

Nothing to do with XBox (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41880097)

Hasn't anyone noticed that the patent doesn't mention the XBox. Geekwire has added that to make the story more exciting.

The Answer is No. (4, Informative)

akpoff (683177) | about 2 years ago | (#41880131)

It's always no.

One thing though: This story is a great demonstration of my maxim that any headline which ends in a question mark can be answered by the word "no". The reason why journalists use that style of headline is that they know the story is probably bollocks, and donâ(TM)t actually have the sources and facts to back it up, but still want to run it.

In other words, Betteridge's law of headlines [wikipedia.org] describes trolling by the writer or publisher rather than a commenter.

Simple.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41880145)

Take a HD photo of you in the room from the point of view of the camera they use, then develop a device that holds the photo in front of the camera.

If it works in the movies, why not in real life eh?

cool Dickian idea but still not impressed (1)

zuki (845560) | about 2 years ago | (#41880149)

Sounds like a patent deserving the 'Philip K. Dick Award' in the paranoid invention category.

I can guess a remedial approach... it's always been each person's choice to stop passively watching spoon-fed prime time entertainment programs.

There's so much high-quality content out there that more of it arguably makes little difference, especially since this quantity keeps increasing at such an exponential rate that we don't even have the time to watch a sliver of it anyway... I really don't see much of a down side to refusing to kowtow to any systems featuring 'safeguards' such as this, and that would include similar features.

Horrible and Discriminatory (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41880169)

Once new a guy who looked so young he had to provide ID to buy lotto tickets.

Let's start with the most basics of the horribleness, making things more complicated also makes them more error-prone. It doesn't matter how good you think you've made it, complications greatly increase the chance of critical errors. Next, let's add a system that is designed to turn things off, which just compounds the errors. Next, all of this extra complication is going a lot of money, and you can bet your ass it's going to be the end user who will be paying for it, (literally). Next, this further removes the concept of sale into licensing, which means people are going to be paying for the same movie possibly many, many times. Next the idea that illegal copying is causing enough problem to warrant the insane protection laws that are being passed. Next the idea that illegal copying is doing anything at all, except making it harder for companies to produce utter crap and expect to get paid for it. Next, we're going completely against what the internet should be providing us, EASIER ACCESS TO INFORMATION.

It's so many levels of immorality it's amazing fireballs aren't raining from the sky. Let's hope the sun rises today.

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