After unveiling Microsoft unveiled its latest Xbox console – the Xbox One – at an event in Washington last week reports are now emerging that the Tech giant has a lot in store for its viewers.
An application, ‘Awards and Achievements Across TV Ecosystem’ submitted to the US Patent and Trademark office earlier this month, shows Microsoft’s plans for tracking viewing habits of Xbox owners. Microsoft will then use the data to reward viewers who watch adverts or shows with credits and achievements
It details plans for Microsoft to reward viewers for watching adverts, TV shows or series, with virtual scores, or physical awards such as coupons and products – although it is expected the plans will be opt-in, and not turned on by default.
The new Kinect sensor that Microsoft plans to use, can follow eye movements, track your reaction to shows using heart-rate monitors and see you in the dark.
Under the patent plans, this means Microsoft would potentially be able to record where on the screen your eyes look, and measure how involved you are in a TV show or gauge your response to an advert based on your heart rate changes.
The application, originally found by Games Industry International, said: ‘Television viewing tends to be a passive experience for a viewer, without many opportunities for the viewer to engage or have interactive experiences with the presented content.
‘By tying the awards and achievements to particular items of video or advertising content, viewers may be encouraged to increase their viewership of the content, thus increasing advertising opportunities.’
Examples given in the application include rewarding users for watching an episode, watching an ‘entire series of linear video content’, watching ‘one or more commercials contained within the linear video content’ and rewarding users for ‘performing a specific action while watching video content.’
This includes one-off events such as the Super Bowl, or watching series’ which could include the Halo TV spin-off announced last week, being shown exclusively on the Xbox One.
It is thought that the plans will be opt-in, and users can additionally search for and actively watch reward shows and adverts, to increase their achievements.
The application doesn’t specifically state what platform the plans will relate to. It is thought that if the plans are successful they will apply to the new Xbox One console, because of its new TV features.
Already, Microsoft’s plans are eliciting mixed reactions with most people seeing this move nothing short of a spy tactics. The head of Civil Liberties Australia, Tim Vines told GamesFix: ‘Microsoft’s new Xbox meets the definition of a surveillance device under some Australian laws, so they need to be upfront and tell customers whether anyone else can intercept their information or remotely access their device.
‘The Xbox One continuously records all sorts of personal information about me.
‘My reaction rates, my learning or emotional states.
These are then processed on an external server, and possibly even passed on to third parties. The fact that Microsoft could potentially spy on my living room is merely a twisted nightmare.’
It will be interesting to see if the same concerns resonate with other users.