Wednesday, June 5, 2013
putting the 'con' in 'spiracy'
While I don't spend that much time being overly paranoid, there are a few technological developments that deserve a little scrutiny. For instance, the upcoming version of the XBox (which, like all current game machines, will be an internet-connected device) soon to be released to the public comes with a mandatory accessory called the Kinect. The general idea is that you can walk into the room where it's installed and just say 'XBox on' in order to play a game or watch television. Yes, a big part of its appeal is that you can use it to give your television commands just in case you're bored with old fashioned remote control devices; it will also be Skype enabled since MS bought them 2 years ago. Of course if all you have to do is talk to the Kinect then it can never really be off. And, while you can opt to turn it off (which, of course, would defeat its whole purpose), if it's unplugged, or removed, the XBox itself won't work at all.
The Kinect device designed for the Xbox One can monitor users’ movements with a camera that sees in the dark, picks up conversations as well as voice commands with a microphone, and can also read your heart rate using infrared cameras that track blood flow underneath the skin. What makes this worrisome is that Microsoft has filed a patent that suggests it is interested in using Kinect to count the number of people in a room in order to charge each person for providing pay-per-user content. Imagine sitting down to watch a streaming movie that you've paid your rental fee for only to have the Kinect count how many people are in the room and turn the movie off until you've paid for everyone watching it: 'I'm sorry Dave, you can't do that'.
Officials in Germany and Australia have alerted their respective governments about the possibility of the XBox Ones being being used as surveillance devices and have advised against them. Goodness knows there are already more than enough privacy issues with CCTVs, cell phone photographers/videographers and what have you out in public without having another sitting in the corner of the room watching you or your children without you being aware that it's doing just that.
Now while I run off to find a piece of tape to cover the pinhole camera in my laptop, you can check out this sweet little movie about an old man who was afraid of falling:
The Man Who Was Afraid of Falling from Joseph Wallace on Vimeo.