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The Inquirer is reporting on an interesting patent recently published, but filed back in 2011, by Microsoft “Awards and Achievements Across TV Ecosystem”. With the introduction of the Xbox One, Microsoft is showing their goal for living room entertainment dominance by integrating nearly every type of entertainment through their systems and hardware. This new patent sheds some light on some of the other activities and functionality we might see in the Xbox One.

The patent itself starts out with this claim:

“A method for awarding a user, comprising: receiving a user-viewing goal detailing a specific linear video content viewing behavior of the user; receiving one or more user-specific reports of all linear video content viewing behaviors of the user while using each of a plurality of different applications; and granting an award to the user if the user-specific reports collectively indicate the user-viewing goal is reached by the user.”

Since the Xbox One will have the ability to integrate with your cable or satellite provider, they have the opportunity to gather data on your viewing history. Much like how Netflix is able to gather your viewing history and recommend other content you might be interested in or sell that aggregated data to someone else. Microsoft could be able to tap into that available data with the Xbox One and offer up achievements or some other instant gratification reward to its users. For instance, you get achievements for watching a season of Game of Thrones and maybe call them “Mother of Dragons” or “The Iron Throne”.

That doesn’t sound too bad, so what is wrong with this? Well…..privacy really. You could effectively be putting Big Brother in your living room and have your every decision be monitored and collected as data while offering up rewards like achievements to distract you from what they could be doing with that data. The Xbox One is in a unique position. Not only will it be able to collect your viewing habits, but since every box will ship with the Kinect and have the “always-on” feature they could be able to watch you while you watch your shows. In the instance of integrating with your TV programs, the Kinect could recognize what commercials you actually watch, when you are attentive, or which family member watches specific programming. This is a gold mine for consumer research.

The catch would have to be that you have to consent to these actions and effectively give up your freedoms willingly. And a lot of people will, either knowingly or not. Some will simply not care, but there will be those that will care and there is a good chance for this to get blown out of proportion. I myself only stated speculative examples of the capabilities of the hardware to produce a scenario that would scare the privacy centric reader, but it was too easy to come up with and I can’t deny that it could be a possible “feature” with Microsoft’s Xbox One.

What I would like people to take away from this information is that at face value it looks like there will be achievements for watching TV or shows, but be sure to question what the company will be doing with the data it collects.

Sources: The Inquirer, US Patent & Trademark Office