What are the personal security implications of having a Kinect 2 in your home?

I so wish it wasn’t true but it is.

We are at the point where we have to consider issues like entertainment and national security. Who would have ever guessed?

My question today boys and girls is about Microsoft’s Xbox and second generation Kinect camera aka the Kinect 2. In light of  all the recent NSA revelations and the all encompassing powers of the various governments in this world, would you feel comfortable with a very powerful and sensitive camera in your home?

I started to think about this as I was talking to my buddies the other day and the topic came up. Now this is just anecdotal but I was pretty take aback by how many of them have decided to pass on getting the Kinect 2 because of the security implications. As always, once my interested was piqued, I decided to explore a little more.

A simple search for the capabilities of the Kinect 2 camera revealed the following:

  • It has a radically expanded field of view and a new Infrared camera that enables it to see (you) in the dark.
  • It has advanced 3d geometry so it can tell a lot about your posture and body positioning.
  • It has Real Motion
 technology that has radically enhanced gesture detection. Even the very smallest movements of your body can be detected.
  • It has Real Voice technology and comes with not just one good microphone but a multi-microphone array.
  • It has advanced noise isolation technology so it can single out the appropriate voices even in a crowded room.

Now that sounds like some pretty sophisticated hardware and on one hand, you have to give props and kudos to the good folks at Microsoft R&D Labs. They’ve come up with some pretty crazy stuff.

On the other hand, it also sounds like a perfectly designed spy device.

Check out these video that shows a demo of some of the new technology present in the Kinect 2.

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There’s No doubt that this camera is the most sophisticated home gaming accessory on the market today. There’s also no dispute that for those who choose to buy the Xbox One, games will be more engaging and “real” and with time, developers will start to create some really amazing stuff for it.

On the other hand, isn’t having such a device in your home a security risk?

Once this is in the home, after a while, most people won’t really care if the camera is off and on. If Microsoft is able to integrate the software with cable and the internet, a scenario where it will always be on is not unreasonable.

So now you’ll have a powerful eye in your living room that can record what you say and record what you do.

No matter what any vendor says, once a device like this exists, there will be hacks for it. Some will be patched and some won’t. Then there are governments.

It’s not sci-fi to imagine that at some point, both the Microsoft and Sony cameras can be controlled (if only briefly) by Government Agencies if need be. A few years ago that would have sounded bizarre or like something from a Warner Bros movie – today it’s all too possible.

Now most people (in America) really don’t care too much about surveillance. There’s a lackadaisical “I have nothing to hide/I’m an open book” kind of mentality that has become pretty pervasive especially among younger people.

In light of that, I’m pretty curious to hear back from you guys and girls.

The questions:

  1. Do you plan to buy an Xbox One or PS4 with a camera?
  2. Are you at all concerned by the power of these cameras and the potential for abuse by third parties?

Use the comments below and let me know..

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