Over the weekend, Microsoft’s Vice President of Marketing and Strategy Yusuf Mehdi spoke during a conference via the Association of National Advertisers. His speech, in which he touched on the subject of the Xbox One and advertising, lead to a report in Ad Age stating that the company’s gaming console is “like [a] TV that watches you,” amassing data for advertisers about users and what happens on their side of the screen. Microsoft denies this.
The report went on to discuss the idea of biometric data, saying the Kinect could provide advertisers with bounties of data about what goes on in gamers’ living rooms, particularly how they respond to certain advertisements in terms of body language and the attention they give the advertisement. It pointed out Mehdi’s statements on what the Kinect can do, including distinguishing between voices, measuring heart rates, and more. Said Mehdi:
“We are trying to bridge some of the world between online and offline. That’s a little bit of a holy grail in terms of how you understand the consumer in that 360 degrees of their life. We have a pretty unique position at Microsoft because of what we do with digital, as well as more and more with television because of Xbox. It’s early days, but we’re starting to put that together in more of a unifying way, and hopefully at some point we can start to offer that to advertisers broadly.”
Microsoft has come forward to say that such information is not correct, and that no advertisements will be provided based on Kinect-harvested data about its users. Instead, says the company, Mehdi’s remark quoted above was not in relation to the Kinect, but instead on content that could find its way onto platforms like the Xbox SmartGlass, allowing advertisers to “create new experiences unifying their content across devices.”
The company went on to clarify that no information gathered via the Kinect would be used for advertisement purposes unless the gamer provided authorization for such use. The Xbox One’s Kinect has been a source of privacy concerns since being revealed earlier this year, and the company has made several statements in regards to the issue, attempting to reassure gamers that the Kinect won’t be a “spy” in their living room.