Microsoft has detailed the operation of the Xbox One's most oddly controversial feature - its off switch.
The recent reveal of the Xbox One left a lot of questions unanswered. Instead of building mystery and hype, some of the murky details surrounding Microsoft's upcoming console have led consumers to assume the worst. Chief among these worries are the concerns that the Kinect component of the machine will need to be constantly watching and listening, since the ability to turn on your console via voice commands requires the Kinect to be on all the time. A Microsoft spokesperson has addressed these privacy concerns, and promises that Microsoft won't become the new Big Brother.
"It is not always watching or always listening," the spokesperson explains. "You can turn the system completely off. This would use no power and turn everything off. We'll share more details about how it all works later."
It seems a little silly to need an official statement to tell us that we can turn our gaming machine off, but there's weight to the public's concerns. In the midst of the always-online scare, the threat of your Xbox constantly spying on you from your living room doesn't seem that far-fetched. The Kinect will be required to play games on the Xbox One, and the new next-gen model of its hardware will be much harder to spoof than the current iteration. The new Kinect is powerful enough to see in the dark and measure your heartrate from your facial expression, so naturally it would be bad if that recording software fell into the wrong hands.
"We are designing the new Kinect with simple, easy methods to customize privacy settings, provide clear notifications and meaningful privacy choices for how data will be used, stored, and shared," the Microsoft representative says.
It's good to know that Microsoft is paying attention to our privacy concerns, at least, but I'm not entirely convinced. Privacy settings are all well and good... but maybe keep a spare cloth around to cover the sensors when you don't need them. Just in case.