Here’s a new, innovative Kinect patent. It uses the Kinect cameras to count how many users watching the television, and can take “remedial action” if there are more people watching than the number of licenses you paid for. Seriously! Conceivably, if you rented Avatar through a Microsoft content store, and it noticed that your whole family was watching, it could ask you to cough up more money. Microsoft just patented that process. Direct quote from the patent abstract: 

Content is distributed an associated license option on the number of individual consumers or viewers allowed to consume the content. Consumers are presented with a content selection and a choice of licenses allowing consumption of the content. The users consuming the content on a display device are monitored so that if the number of user-views licensed is exceeded, remedial action may be taken.

Can’t get any clearer than that. But in case you didn’t totally understand, the patent also includes a handy flowchart:

We should be clear here: Microsoft has no plans to implement this patent (that we know of.) However, it’s still disturbing in one way: we’ve bought all these screens with front-facing cameras, presumably for increased functionality. However, our trust gets betrayed when a major tech giant (like Microsoft) starts thinking of ways to use the cameras to spy on users and make them pay more.

Take a look at the whole patent here.

Filed in Gadgets. Read more about Kinect and Microsoft.

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