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Microsoft Patents Television Your Rights Online

Will Microsoft Dis-Kinect Freeloading TV Viewers? 478

theodp writes "Just when you think the cable TV viewing experience couldn't get any worse, GeekWire reports on the Microsoft Xbox Incubation team's patent-pending Consumer Detector, which uses cameras and sensors like those in the Xbox 360 Kinect controller to monitor, count and in some cases identify the people in a room watching television, movies and other content. Should the number of viewers detected exceed the limits of a particular content license, the system would halt playback unless additional viewing rights were purchased."
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Will Microsoft Dis-Kinect Freeloading TV Viewers?

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  • by leuk_he ( 194174 ) on Monday November 05, 2012 @10:03AM (#41879813) Homepage Journal


    auto pause when nobody is watching.

    Note: advertisements can not be skipped, advertisements are mandatory.

    You do not want to fight your customers!

  • by vlm ( 69642 ) on Monday November 05, 2012 @10:03AM (#41879815)

    Typical dual use technology

    Multinational megacorp : 1984 is closer every year, lets monitor and track and dehumanize, all to protect us from terrorists and "Its For The Children(tm)" and we'll purchase govt legislators to legislate our profits into perpetuity and damn the peons, some citizens like corporations are more equal than other citizens like meatbags

    Open source mythtv implementation : webcam detects wife entering the room, automatic hands off instant channel change from "Naughty Cheerleaders Car Wash 2012" to "CSPAN". I'm actually kinda surprised no one has implemented this yet. With all the video processing being done in VDPAU the CPU needs something to do to keep warm in the winter, and webcams are cheap, and prototype open source cam monitoring software already exists so ...

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 05, 2012 @10:07AM (#41879837)

    That idea is actually worth another patent, if only to stop companies actually implementing it.

  • Re:Masking tape (Score:5, Interesting)

    by dintech ( 998802 ) on Monday November 05, 2012 @10:10AM (#41879861)
    There's something very Orwellian about all of this. If content providers had their way, there would be a laser pointer on top of the Kinect with which to blind any people in the room who aren't supposed to be watching.

    1984 was about big brother government but when corporations effectively write the laws of government anyway, perhaps we don't need to make a distinction. The only difference it seems is that corporations have absolutely no pretense about looking after the people.
  • Re:Masking tape (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 05, 2012 @10:46AM (#41880213)

    If it comes to the point that I have to do this just to watch a movie, I think I'll just opt out altogether and play my guitar while I watch my oscar swim around his tank.

  • Re:Masking tape (Score:5, Interesting)

    by History's Coming To ( 1059484 ) on Monday November 05, 2012 @10:57AM (#41880341) Journal
    Although try convincing the UK TV licensing authorities that - it's very common to get repeated threatening letters and people knocking at the door if you don't own a TV license. What if you don't own a TV? Well they don't believe that, they keep sending the threatening letters as long as you don't own the license, because (their reasoning) everybody owns a TV.

    Ironically, I also lived in a flat which did have a TV, but shared an address with a University office block. We were told we had to buy the commercial version of the license and they wouldn't sell us the household version. We stopped even trying to buy a license and heard no more on the matter.
  • by Laxator2 ( 973549 ) on Monday November 05, 2012 @11:18AM (#41880657)

    I remember that some years ago, somebody came up with another brilliant idea: Have the TV sets locked on to a particular channel when the ads are shown, and ignore anything the user does with the remote control. Return control to the user only after the ads are finished.
      And to top it off, the new "feature" included an "upgraded" service, where the user will pay extra to have the channel lock removed. Patented ransomware.

    What they did not take into account, is that people who were unknowingly buying such a thing were going to return them to the store in droves, declaring the units defective.

    This move simply smacks of desperation from M$ after their blah launch of Win8 and the Surface tablet (plus the obligatory Apple and Google tablet launches around the same time)

  • Re:Masking tape (Score:4, Interesting)

    by CanHasDIY ( 1672858 ) on Monday November 05, 2012 @11:23AM (#41880701) Homepage Journal
    Here's what I'd do:

    - set up a machine between your Xbox and router to do a packet capture

    - disconnect every other device on the network (not necessary, but will reduce background "noise" from unrelated traffic)

    - fire up the Xbox with the Kinect unhooked, and let it run for a bit, keeping an eye on the packets (I don't know much about Xbox networking, but I would guess anything transmitted outside port 80 would be suspect)

    - hook up the Kinect and look for any changes in the packet capture

    Of course, I'm fairly certain that if the Xbox phones home with the Kinect... uh, connected... it probably does it all the time, but maybe (assuming your hypothesis is correct and they're already watching you) the Kinect uses a different protocol or something.
  • Re:Masking tape (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Archangel Michael ( 180766 ) on Monday November 05, 2012 @11:49AM (#41881055) Journal

    Sorry, but I don't know of a single instance of something Google has that has stopped working because of DRM. Apple, and M$ I have. While Google may be abusing customers (opinion) they have yet to do something horrible deserving of distrust (beyond the obvious).

  • Re:Masking tape (Score:5, Interesting)

    by History's Coming To ( 1059484 ) on Monday November 05, 2012 @12:26PM (#41881691) Journal
    Because (in theory at least) UK stores are legally obliged to ask for an address when selling you a TV.

    To AC above: In the first flat I mentioned, no, we didn't have a TV. When they came to the door we would refuse to let them in, as is our right, and suggested they came back with a court warrant. In the second flat (where they refused to sell us a residential licence) we did have a TV, hence we were trying to buy a licence.

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from a rigged demo.