Microsoft Confirms Xbox One Will Function Without Kinect

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.

Kevin started taking PCs apart in the 90s when Quake was on the way and his PC lacked the required components. Since then, he’s loved all things PC-related and cool gadgets ranging from the New Nintendo 3DS to Android tablets. He is currently a contributor at Digital Trends, writing about everything from computers to how-to content on Windows and Macs to reviews of the latest laptops from HP, Dell, Lenovo, and more. 

  • gggplaya
    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.
  • gallidorn
    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).
  • computerguy72
    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.
  • HEXiT
    sounds like a mad scramble to get some credibility back...
  • mobrocket
    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
  • master_chen
    Too late, M$...too late.
  • IAmVortigaunt

    Yeah..."too late"...these things are months away from launch, you know...
  • Parrdacc
    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.
  • Deus Gladiorum
    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".
  • Avus
    Now I am sure if there are enough people complaint the XB180 doesn't comes with a bagel, it WILL comes with a bagel!!