Xbox One Review: Unifying Your Living Room Experience

Kinect, Your Privacy, And The Future

Kinect and Privacy

Not only does Kinect recognize its users, but it can also see in the dark thanks to an active infrared camera. Through a combination of its color and IR sensors, Kinect detects minute changes in flesh tones, which translate to heart rates.

Using advanced software models, the Xbox One understands the orientation of your body, as well as the force exerted on different muscle groups. This feature is heavily utilized by the Xbox Fitness online service, which takes popular fitness videos and makes them interactive. Now that's insanity.

You're no longer giving the console inputs through just its controller. Now the machine is gathering information passively expressed by you. Unsettling? Maybe. But this is the sort of thing from science fiction movies, and it has to start somewhere. What'll guide acceptance of this sort of technology is how corporations manage the data they're seeing. In a time where behavioral patterns are peddled for cash to the highest bidder, and we distrust those monitoring us, success isn't going to be easy.

For its part, Microsoft updated its Xbox privacy statement with new entries for Kinect. It reads:

Kinect creates a virtual gaming environment where your body motions and voice can be used to control gameplay and to navigate through the Service. Kinect uses an infrared sensor, camera, and microphone to make control possible.The camera can be used to sign you in. To do so, it measures distances between key points on your face to create a numeric value that represents only you. No one could look at the numbers and know they represent you. This authentication information stays on the console and is not shared with anyone.You control what happens to photographs taken during gameplay and whether voice commands are captured for analysis. You can turn Kinect off at any time.When Kinect is used with certain games and apps, your skeletal movements can be used to estimate exercise stats. You can decide how your stats are managed and whether they are shared.Some game titles may take advantage of a new Xbox capability called expressions. This feature allows you to use your defined facial expressions to control or influence a game. This data does not identify you, stays on the console and is destroyed once your session ends.

Microsoft made a difficult, cost-adding choice to include the Kinect with every Xbox One. It's likely the biggest contributor to the $100 premium over Sony's PS4. That was a very risky move considering the price sensitivity of gamers during the holiday season.

But the age-old challenge presented by console peripherals is that, unless a feature is universal, developers won't consider support a priority. The original Kinect didn't fail in this regard, but any developer peddling a game dependent on the camera accessory knew its customer base was markedly smaller. All things considered, though, I believe that Microsoft made the right call. It was the only way to ensure developers considered Kinect for every game they made. Ultimately, the Xbox One has a greater opportunity to move the dial on future-looking interaction with the console compared to Sony's PS4 as a result.

Marcus Yam
Marcus Yam served as Tom's Hardware News Director during 2008-2014. He entered tech media in the late 90s and fondly remembers the days when an overclocked Celeron 300A and Voodoo2 SLI comprised a gaming rig with the ultimate street cred.
  • lostgamer_03
    Great review, really made reflect over what a gaming machine should be able to do nowadays. A gaming machine isn't just a gaming machine anymore and the Xbox One, even though it might not be as powerful as PS4, is a really attractive product in my perspective.
  • Ceee9
    any Am%$^$N want to trash this?
  • Nahkman
    Reinventing the TV experience only applies to the Americas as the rest of the world does not really care much about ESPN, and also a lot of the functionality is NA only, there was also a rumor that kinect voice commands do not work in a lot of european countries.
  • Maziar
    Great review
    At the time being,IMO PS4 is a better gaming machine;whereas,X1 is a better entertainment system.
    PS4 has a more powerful GPU so it should perform better in games and is $100 cheaper too;whereas,X1 tries to do more than just gaming and costs more.
    For me,PS4 is a better machine because I only tend to play games on a console but X1 is also a great machine
  • de5_Roy
    10 pages and.. nothing about xbone(R)'s gaming capability or gaming experience. the review was done well, but seems restricted to media capabilities. the device seems versatile.
    some of the ps4 reviews i read had info on gaming as well as media/entertainment. i mean info like how the games look and feel to a player, resolution and user perception, joystick (and other input devices) performance in gaming etc.
  • daglesj
    As a 42 year old that back in 2006 played a lot of games on my console but now mainly uses it for media and streaming with a bit of gaming on the side (I'm sure I'm not the only one) the Xbox One is a more compelling unit than the PS4.

    I'm pretty sure MS went over the usage stats of the 360 and found that more and more people were using the media/TV/movie aspects. After all thats where the money is.

    MS could sell half as many Xbox Ones as Sony but it will still be making far more per console in subscriptions and services. The money going forward isn't in games.

    However, I don't think this generation will be as long lived as the 360/PS4. I see One.5 or PS4.5 models or total replacement within 5 years.
  • zzzaac
    Unfortunately all these nifty things are half working or not working at all for countries other than US of A

    I might be getting both, but to be honest I might not get any, as I've become more of a PC gamer
  • daglesj
  • daglesj
  • cats_Paw
    I think im getting old, becouse when i read this i think that the Xbox one is basicly a low end PC with limited usability...