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Microsoft Kinect ads can watch you while you watch them

Network World – by Ms. Smith

Do you watch commercials or do use that timeslot to run to the restroom or to the kitchen? Do you fast-forward to skip as many commercials as possible when watching TV via a DVR or On Demand? Microsoft’s new Kinect-powered interactive commercials, called NUads for Natural User Interface Adverstisements, have the potential to change all that.

According to CNET’s Declan McCullagh, Microsoft manager Lyn Watts stated that advertisers can “go after the holy grail – the living room” with Kinect Nuads. Whether you like the idea of TV ads watching while you watch the advertisement or not, Microsoft’s Kinect interactive NUads will “begin rolling out in late spring.”

“How many people are in the living room? Are they taking any action based on the advertising they just saw?” Watts said. “Can we watch the customers’ reaction, and if we can, do we have the capability of showing a different ad, or the same ad, depending on what the reaction was?”

The Kinect privacy policy states, “Kinect can record speech data, photos and videos” and “collects and uses body recognition data.” But Microsoft told CNET, “With respect to privacy, Xbox 360 and Xbox Live do not use any information captured by Kinect for advertising targeting purposes and NUads is no exception.”

Indeed, Microsoft clarified in a follow-up statement emailed to Network World that the company has not announced plans for Xbox 360 or Xbox Live to use information capturted by Kinect for advertising targeting purposes. A spokesperson reiterated that “Microsoft has strict policies in place that prohibit the collection, storage or use of Kinect data for the purpose of advertising,” and that the presentation was meant to discuss the potential for consumer-interacted advertisements, in which a user may request retail information from the Xbox and would receive advertisements in response.

“To be clear, the presentation at the PII conference did not announce targeted advertising features. The focus of the presentation was the future of advertising and the potential privacy issues managers at other companies must consider as technologies such as Kinect transform the industry,” the Microsoft spokesperson said.

Still, Eurogamer pointed out Watt’s statements about “how NUads may tailor advertising using data gathered by Kinect” contradict Microsoft’s statement about privacy.

“With a NUads-based commercial, TV advertisers will be able to listen in on a TV audience at home via a microphone, or perhaps view the home audience via facial recognition or video,” reported Neowin. “Of course, all of this conjurers up a ‘Big Brother’ future where we would be spied on while watching TV commercials.” Indeed much like the Samsung smart TVs that watch you, the Kinect NUads bring to mind the spying TV sets that George Orwell foresaw, televisions that watched viewers on behalf of Big Brother.

Immediately after announcing Nuads last year, Microsoft’s Mark Kroese wrote,”In this case of NUads and Kinect, I’m here to say that it will change television as we know it-forever.” At that time Seattle Pi skeptically asked, “Would you actually interact with ads?” Whether Kinect-enabled advertising will prove “irresistibly interactive” or yawnsville to viewers remains to be seen, but Gizmodo called the NUads “awful” and that when it comes to interacting and sharing TV ads, “literally no one has ever wanted to do that.”

NUads will incorporate voice commands as Kroese had suggested. Xbox Tweet and Xbox Share are about social media interaction. Xbox More will “request additional information and/or a discount coupon to be sent directly to your email inbox.” Xbox Schedule will send calendar reminders. Xbox Near Me finds a local retailer and sends you “a text message with the location.”

Although this “Rich TV” Kia advertisement campaign launched through Xbox Live wasslightly different, users “who chose to interact with the Kia creative on Xbox LIVE spent an average of 298 seconds (essentially five minutes) exploring Kia advertising content.” NUads will also allow marketers to offer interactive Kinect-friendly ads on the Xbox 360 dashboard; who knows, it might be a smashing success?

When we considered if Kinect long-term privacy issues would be daunting, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said Kinect could make “interactivity in the living room available to everybody” and that fits in with Watts’ plans for advertisers to “go after the holy grail” of invading living rooms. This NUad demo video currently has 5 likes and 32 dislikes, but this one from AdWeek claims when NUads technology is embedded on top of a regular 30 second commercial, “we are able to move consumers further down that purchase path.” And if you have Kinect, lucky you, it’s coming to your living room before summer.

There are tons of awesome Kinect hacks for all kinds of purposes. While Razorfish’sKinectShop seems cool, allowing a person to shop and virtually try on clothes via augmented reality, it’s a choice to shop. You do not have to interact with the NUads, but it seems skin-crawling creepy to me that the Kinect “viewing police” will be watching you while you watch commercial advertisements.

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15 Responses to Microsoft Kinect ads can watch you while you watch them

  1. Morgan says:

    I haven’t had a TV in almost 20 years, I don’t miss it, currently find it irritating if it’s on where I’m at, and I’m happier than ever about that now. I have better things to do than go brain dead in front of the boob tube for even 5 seconds of my time. And now that I look back on my past, I wish I’d never seen one of the infernal propaganda machines.

    Blech. Take your adverts, and put ’em where the sun don’t shine!

  2. TranceAm says:

    A spokesperson reiterated that “Microsoft has strict policies in place that prohibit the collection, storage or use of Kinect data for the purpose of advertising,”

    Microsoft can claim what they want, and change it on a whim.
    Not to mention that Local law overrules whatever they claim, if you become a person of interest.

  3. Father Christmas says:

    What kind of an idiot owns a TV anyway?

    • # 1 NWO Hatr says:

      I own one.

      But it has never, EVER been been hooked up for ANY kind of PROGRAMING.

      It’s strictly for watching movies on dvd, NOTHING ELSE.

      • Father Christmas says:

        I use my computers for that. I transfer all my movies to HDD and pack away the DVDs. I’m watching a movie as I type. In Britain, even if I never watched the BBC on a TV I would still have to have the absurdly named ‘TV Licence’, which costs £hundreds/year. MI6 discovered long ago that brainwashing is more effective when the brainwashed pay for it and the BBC was never anything more than the public propaganda arm of MI6, itself a provincial branch office of Mossad, the Rothschilds’ intelligence and assassination service.

        • # 1 NWO Hatr says:

          I’ll occasionally watch movies on my laptop, but only if I’m away from home.

          There’s something about a 40 in. flat screen as opposed to a 16 in monitor that greatly enhances my movie experience, not only visually, but also the sound is far superior.

          • Father Christmas says:

            Have you placed it where all the neighbors can see it, facing out of a curtainless window?

          • # 1 NWO Hatr says:

            Nope. It’s on my dresser a few feet from the end of my bed. The curtains are opaque, you can’t see through them at all.

            Besides, I don’t think the neighbors on this side would be interested in the kind of movies I like – mostly sci-fi / fantasy, action-adventure, animated, and the occasional thriller.

            They’re Muslim.

            But I definitely prefer them to the arrogant idiot Mexicans on the other side.

  4. Ken says:

    Ever notice that you get hungry when ‘watching’ TV? Ever notice how irritated and agitated you become when TV is on, even when you do not watch it? Ever notice how tired and sleepy you get when TV is on?
    It is not by accident, George Orwell was just scratching the surface and you better be dressed like Cary Grant when lounging around your home from now on…
    No more scratching yourself either or the Minority Report will get you!

  5. Father Christmas says:

    If they can watch you through the TV while you watch adcrap then they can watch you through the TV anytime they like, even when it’s supposedly switched off.

    • diggerdan says:

      I do not think that it is not only the televisions `cause – at least with my pc – my pc turns itself on all by itself every now and then, and not only that, but sometimes my screensaver comes up on its own. Microsoft windows – I think – has something to do with that also, even though they will never admit to it. even Kaspersky say`s that I have no problems with my pc. We are all being watched ya know – there are some people that just do not want to admit it is happening and are in denial – sheeples ya know.

  6. matt says:

    I guess I’m a bit traditional or passé, but I use my phone for phone calls, my computer for emails and internet etc., and my TV for TV. WEIRD! I hate commercials on TV though, and don’t like thinking that my ad-watching habits are being monitored so some other corporate ad mogul can make a few extra dollars. I heard from a DISH coworker about the Hopper DVR’s new AutoHop feature, and love that I can actually skip commercials. I use PrimeTime Anytime to record primetime shows on all four major networks, and due to my long work schedule I usually watch these the next day. I can set Autohop to skip ads, and not only do I save a bunch of time watching my shows, but I don’t have to worry about my TV habits being measured by ad companies.

    • # 1 NWO Hatr says:

      Bad juju, or technically – ‘jewjew’.

      Why do you think they call it PROGRAMING???

    • Father Christmas says:

      “I use PrimeTime Anytime to record primetime shows on all four major networks” – matt

      You must love your brainwashing, matt. Does it give you that dopamine feeling?

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