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Microsoft Confirms Xbox One Will Function Without Kinect

By - Source: Kotaku | B 28 comments

Kinect can be unplugged, says Microsoft.

Up until now, gamers and the press alike were led to believe that the Xbox One simply could not function without the Kinect sensor. The company clearly stated that it needed to be connected and turned on at all times in order for the new console to function properly in all cases.

Eventually Microsoft caved in to consumer backlash about having a sensor watching their every move even when the console is supposedly sleeping, so the company said okay, the motion detecting sensor can be turned off in the system settings. That was good news considering that Microsoft spent E3 2013 promoting an "always on" and "always connected" console.

MORE: PS4 vs. Xbox One: Console Comparison

Honestly, there was good reason to feel somewhat paranoid over the device. The Kinect sensor can see in the dark, it keeps an ear open for voice commands, and can track a heart rate simply by looking at the user's face. Users can turn on the Xbox One simply by speaking "Xbox On", meaning who knows what the device is listening to at any given point. NSA paranoia anyone?

Now Microsoft's Marc Whitten has come forward to explain that if Xbox One owners unplug Kinect, the world won't stop spinning. "Like online, the console will still function if Kinect isn’t plugged in, although you won’t be able to use any feature or experience that explicitly uses the sensor," he said.

He also said that Kinect will be totally off when the user switches it off in the settings – there's (supposedly) no secret sleeping mode. "You have the ability to completely turn the sensor off in your settings," he added. "When in this mode, the sensor is not collecting any information. Any functionality that relies on voice, video, gesture or more won’t work."

He added that when loading up Kinect-required games like Kinect Sports Rivals, users will receive a message asking if they want to turn the sensor back on in order to continue. "We still support using it for IR blasting in this mode. You can turn the sensor back on at any time through settings," he said.

A Microsoft rep later told Kotaku that if Kinect is only used to enable supplemental features in a particular title, then users will still be able to play that game if Kinect is unplugged. "We also have a ton of privacy settings to allow people to turn off the camera, or microphones, or put it in a state just for 'Xbox On' and IR blasting – there will be a lot of user control for that," added Microsoft senior exec Albert Penello.

He said that Microsoft recognized that there will be scenarios where people won't feel comfortable having the Kinect sensor sitting idle and quiet like a creepy HAL 9000 computer. The company wants everyone 100 percent comfortable with the machine, thus leading to the change in policy that now allows the sensor to be completely unplugged.

"The most obvious thing is watching a DVD/BD, or streaming a movie, or HDMI pass-through, your experience isn’t impacted (except you miss voice and IR blasting)," he said.

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Top Comments
  • 12 Hide
    computerguy72 , August 13, 2013 6:36 AM
    If they didn't include the Kinect by default it's a feature that would not be supported much by developers. I think they have to do it this way. I don't get the argument that you could make something like this optional and have it be successful. If the extra $ is such a burden or you truly hate the idea of the features kinect offers then get a PS4. That's what competition is all about. I think the minority report ish function of the kinect make it potentially a very cool deal if it is supported.
  • 11 Hide
    gggplaya , August 13, 2013 6:23 AM
    The NSA is like awww crap, oh well, at least we still get to spy the users that actually like the kinect.

    No thanks, PS4 for me.
  • 10 Hide
    IAmVortigaunt , August 13, 2013 8:21 AM
    @master_chen

    Yeah..."too late"...these things are months away from launch, you know...
Other Comments
    Display all 28 comments.
  • 11 Hide
    gggplaya , August 13, 2013 6:23 AM
    The NSA is like awww crap, oh well, at least we still get to spy the users that actually like the kinect.

    No thanks, PS4 for me.
  • 0 Hide
    gallidorn , August 13, 2013 6:26 AM
    This is only part of the solution. Too bad Microsoft still doesn't get it! Most people don't want Kinnect, and would rather have a console that costs $100 less. Give people the option to buy Kinnect separately (if they want it).
  • 12 Hide
    computerguy72 , August 13, 2013 6:36 AM
    If they didn't include the Kinect by default it's a feature that would not be supported much by developers. I think they have to do it this way. I don't get the argument that you could make something like this optional and have it be successful. If the extra $ is such a burden or you truly hate the idea of the features kinect offers then get a PS4. That's what competition is all about. I think the minority report ish function of the kinect make it potentially a very cool deal if it is supported.
  • 2 Hide
    HEXiT , August 13, 2013 6:42 AM
    sounds like a mad scramble to get some credibility back...
  • 5 Hide
    mobrocket , August 13, 2013 7:01 AM
    This may have been part of the plan. Xbox Ones will be sold out for Xmas... so all those saps were forced to buy a kinect....

    when sales slow down, they will unbundle it and make it cheaper than the PS4
    just watch
  • -3 Hide
    master_chen , August 13, 2013 7:32 AM
    Too late, M$...too late.
  • 10 Hide
    IAmVortigaunt , August 13, 2013 8:21 AM
    @master_chen

    Yeah..."too late"...these things are months away from launch, you know...
  • 1 Hide
    Parrdacc , August 13, 2013 8:22 AM
    Yeah now it does! Only after all the bad press and consumers complain. M$ you and politicians go about things the same way. You are convinced that you know what we want. Wrong. You tell us what we want, instead of listening to what we want. If M$ had actually listened they would of known that this was a bad idea, among the others I feel they need to address in regards to Xbox One.
  • 0 Hide
    Deus Gladiorum , August 13, 2013 8:37 AM
    Thank God! This was the last thing holding me back from a purchase (that and the price tag), but it's good to know that consumers still have a voice. The Xbox One started out as a huge attack against consumer rights and I honestly wasn't planning on getting it. The attacks now from consumers are unfair and calling it an Xbox 180 or mostly stem from fanboyism. Microsoft's decisions to reverse their policies while still keeping some of the more unique aspects of the consoles which don't hurt consumers are a sign that the company is picking itself up. Honestly, I'm really glad I don't have to skip the console this gen due to fears of it being straight out of "1984".
  • 3 Hide
    Avus , August 13, 2013 9:25 AM
    Now I am sure if there are enough people complaint the XB180 doesn't comes with a bagel, it WILL comes with a bagel!!
  • 4 Hide
    joescalon , August 13, 2013 9:29 AM
    I always see a lot of hate for Xbox on here and people calling it a flop yet everywhere I go local Xbox pre-orders are all sold out, unlike ps4. Anyways my wife can't stand the ps4 controller nor its exclusive games and family plays with kinect. Nice to see some more good news, my preorder from Microsoft is just waiting now.
  • -4 Hide
    jesh4622 , August 13, 2013 10:01 AM
    The whole point of this announcement is for people to relax about being spied on. Microsft hasn't changed anything. Most games will need the Kinect attached for full functionality. On top of this, where is your guarantee that the Kinect isn't actually logging data in the off mode? Until someone proves otherwise, it's just in "read only mode", ignoring your inputs, and still sending whatever data Microsoft and/or the NSA find useful.

    Months from now there will be another headline with the revalation, "OMG THE KINECT DOESN'T REALLY TURN OFF!" Well guess what, everyone who wanted an XBox One will have rationalized it and bought it already, and they won't sell it because they already invested money into their latest rendition of Call of Duty and all the DLC or some other lame-ass game.

    "You have nothing to fear if you have nothing to hide." -Joseph Goebbels, Nazi
    Stop pretending everything is ok, people.
  • 2 Hide
    IAmVortigaunt , August 13, 2013 10:09 AM
    @jesh4622

    "If you have something that you don't want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn't be doing it in the first place." - Eric Schmidt

    Do you get as outraged over things like the Moto X or Google Glass? Unlike Microsoft, Google's entire business model is based on collecting your data and building a profile. I'm sure they're trustworthy, though...
  • 1 Hide
    dalethepcman , August 13, 2013 10:27 AM
    Wow so much fear mongering. Yeah the xbox is a Nazi/NSA spy machine, get real. How many terrorist do you think sit at home and play Wii Sports before blowing up a school?

    Your ISP/Phone company has more dirt on you than anyone would ever need. Everything you do on the internet goes through them, as well as all text's and calls. I don't see everyone complaining about AT&T monitoring them, but dear god don't let Microsoft know what your doing. (p.s. they already know what your doing, 99% of you are using windows right now...)

    Believe me if you wish, but no one cares what you do on the internet as long as your not looking at kiddie porn, downloading bomb recipes, sending death threats to the white house, or tweeting to Bin Ladins henchmen.

    Even the Google's and Microsoft's don't care what your doing, as long as they can sell you advertisements.
  • 1 Hide
    back_by_demand , August 13, 2013 10:43 AM
    Gallidorn, when you say "most people don't want Kinect" technically you are right. The Xbox 360 sold 77 million units, when the Kinect came out they sold 24 million units. In such a short space of time for a relatively expensive peripheral is a staggering achievement and to piss all over the technology shows breaktaking lack of respect.
  • -2 Hide
    kartu , August 13, 2013 11:21 AM
    Xbone 180

    Still no good reason to buy console that is:

    1) Slower
    2) More expensive
    3) More restrictive (een damn BROWSER won't start without gold subscription!!!)

    And last, but not least still comes from a company that just tried to bend customers over.

  • 2 Hide
    IAmVortigaunt , August 13, 2013 12:05 PM
    @kartu

    except...
    1) HDMI passthrough, meaning I never need a remote again--walk in, say 'xbox on', tell it what TV channel I want to watch. Sounds pretty awesome to me.
    2) Exclusive games
    3) Top notch online play/matchmaking/etc
    4) Graphics probably really close to PS4, plus the promise of cloud-aided processing
    5) Controller is way better than PS4 IMO
    6) Media capabilities, etc
  • -4 Hide
    kartu , August 13, 2013 12:13 PM
    Xbone 180

    Still no good reason to buy console that is:

    1) Slower
    2) More expensive
    3) More restrictive (een damn BROWSER won't start without gold subscription!!!)

    And last, but not least still comes from a company that just tried to bend customers over.

  • -2 Hide
    kartu , August 13, 2013 12:18 PM
    @IAmVortigaunt ,

    except...
    1) It's called CEC, dude. you switch on device, device switches on other stuff. Even PS3 did that. And with "xbox on" you need to have xbox, cough, on. That's 100+ watts. Can as well say "Hello NSA". Pretty Awesome
    2) Xbone 180 is the only console with exclusive games, right.
    3) Nobody knows how good online is.
    4) Graphics probably really close to 7790, when PS4 is on 7850 on steroids, AND much faster memory which will result in 20-40% better performance. "Cloud aided processing" game that offloads IN-GAME processing to some cloud is not even remotely imaginable with current tech (latency, for starters).
    5) Controller is way worse, than even PS3 Dualshock IMO, letters on buttons also look stupid
    6) Media capabilities, etc are RESTRICTED to XBL Gold subscribers, unlike on PS4/Wii-U
  • 2 Hide
    IAmVortigaunt , August 13, 2013 1:06 PM
    @kartu

    @IAmVortigaunt ,

    except...
    1) Umm, no the PS3 did not have this. Yes, it had the ability to turn on your other devices, but no, it did not have a built in TV program guide to control your cable box and no it did not have voice navigation. So you still needed your device remotes to actually operate the things that it turned on. Nice try, though. As for the NSA comment, prove it. You can monitor all traffic sent out on your network. See what it's collecting.
    2) No it's not, but for those that like their exclusives, it's a reason to buy the console. Duh.
    3) Sure...except those of us that play Live on 360 right now know that it's a high quality experience, and the features they've shown look pretty good, like matchmaking in the background, for example. Plus, they've turned their server count up to 11.

    4) Are you paying attention? Obviously, they're not offloading time critical calculations. The things they've mentioned don't require updating at every frame, but will take some load off the console. We'll just have to see how it pans out.
    5) LOLOLOL. Sure, there's a group of people that grew up with dualshock that are used to it, but the 360 controller is fairly widely regarded as nearly perfect. The xb1 controller fixes the d-pad, which is pretty much the only complaint. Meanwhile, dual shock is an ergonomic nightmare for adult hands and the "triggers" they copied from 360 are lame...not to mention that shooters don't even use them for firing. Oh and the analog sticks are a train wreck.
    6) Blah, Blah, Blah - sure, you need gold for this, but it's not that expensive and something you buy anyway for online gaming. I guess if you're looking to buy something JUST for Netflix, you should probably not get an xb1...you should probably get something cheap like a roku. I guess that leaves those that don't want online play, but do want Netflix. Ok, maybe they should get a ps3 if that's their main concern. I'll stick with xbox.
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