Microsoft wants Kinect to read your emotions, but guess what for

Microsoft had an awesome idea: imagine if your Kinect could tell how you were feeling by analyzing your body language, or even the expression on your face. Then Microsoft took it to the inevitable, shrug-worthy conclusion: using this innovation as a better way to serve you ads.

It's an ad centric digital world, ladies and gents. Google does it by analyzing your email content and search terms to tailor ads to you. Facebook does it by seeing what you and your friends are into so it can recommend products, pages and more. We do it by harvesting your sweet, sweet clicks with exhaustive vending machine coverage.

In a new patent application by Microsoft, the company likens its proposed tech to search engines and how "advertisers may bid on the search query to have their advertisements included." With the Kinect's ability to read your emotional state instead, advertisers could then pay Microsoft to link products to your various mood. Rubbing your tummy? Maybe you'd be tempted by a coupon for a pizza. Looking tired? Well, what you need is a high-tech alarm clock to wake you up after a nice nap.

According to Microsoft's patent, Kinect won't just watch you, but hear you, too. Start shouting a lot and maybe you'll be offered anger management classes. Whispering sweetly to your significant other? Perhaps you two will see a throw to some new romantic comedy. These are all our examples, of course. If you want Microsoft's, which are similar, they're in this patent here.

There's no question that this is a breach of privacy, but we willfully breach our own privacy all the time through social media and other means. The Web watches as you navigate with cookies and trackers, even. Does the fact that this is video surveillance make it extra uncomfortable to think of Kinect harvesting data this way? Would it be enough to make you unplug yours? Would you not care if it carried certain kickbacks — say, a free, ad-supported Kinect?

Patent, via The Atlantic and New Scientist

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