Videogame Uses Camera to Target Ads

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The cool part of Microsoft's Kinect video game system is that you can play on it without any remote or joystick. With a webcam style add-on for an Xbox 360, a user can control and interact with the system only using gestures and spoken commands.

But a Microsoft official said last week the company plans to use those Xbox-mounted cameras to target ads to the people watching the games by monitoring who is in the room as an ad plays. The system already uses facial recognition technology to sign in players and match them with their profiles.

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Dennis Durkin serves as chief operating officer and chief financial officer for Microsoft’s Xbox video game business. He told investors on Thursday, “We can cater which content we present to you based on who you are,” according to the Wall Street Journal. “How many people are in the room when an ad is shown? How many people are in the room when a game is being played? When you add this sort of device to a living room, there’s a bunch of business opportunities that come with that.”

But since reports about the Kinect camera's monitoring capabilities first surfaced, its raised plenty of questions about privacy. After all, the idea of a camera watching us in our homes might strike some people (myself included) as a tad creepy.

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In an email Microsoft sent to the Wall Street Journal after its initial report, Microsoft completely reversed itself, saying, "Xbox 360 and Xbox LIVE do not use any information captured by Kinect for advertising targeting purposes."

The Microsoft Kinect just went on sale last week, and Microsoft is already forecasting 5 million units sold in the fourth quarter. That's up from an initial forecast of 3 million units, thanks to brisk sales in its first week.

But it's clear Microsoft still hasn't finalized some aspects of the Kinect, like whether or not to use the camera for ad targeting. But do you think targeted advertising is a good idea if that makes ads more relevant to us, or did Microsoft's original announcement go to far? Let us know in the comments.

Credit: AP Photo/Nell Redmond