A patent filed last year by Microsoft has recently come to light. It’s the most diabolical patent I’ve ever read about. It’s for a “content presentation system” that makes use of a device with an RGB and depth camera – yes, in other words: Kinect. Basically, the system is designed to allow content providers (for example: Netflix or other digital providers) to assess who is watching their content, and then “regulate the presentation of content on a per-user-view basis.”
According to the filing: “Content is distributed to consuming devices, such as televisions, set-top boxes and digital displays, with an associated license option on the number of individual consumers or viewers allowed to consume the content. The limitation may comprise a number of user views, a number of user views over time, a number of simultaneous user views, views tied to user identities, views limited to user age or any variation or combination thereof, all tied to the number of actual content consumers allowed to view the content.”
Basically, if Microsoft gets this application going (and I doubt they will find a willing audience so it’s unlikely) then Kinect could block you from watching certain movies under certain circumstances. Perhaps you hired a film, but the license you rented only allows for two people to watch the film simultaneously; you have three friends over, Kinect counts four people in the room and therefore blocks you from viewing the movie you paid for. Yep, looks like Randy Marsh was on to something when he bought that Blockbusters.