With each passing day, it seems that George Orwell’s vision for the future becomes more and more a reality. 1984? 2012. Monitoring systems are everywhere, and in certain cases they are celebrated. We are digitally connected in a way that is absolutely unprecedented, which provides us with the benefit of instant information retrieval and communication anywhere, any time, but also ties us into a massive network of personal information and data that can be mined for less than altruistic purposes.
Back in February, in Episode 017 of Marooners’ Talk, we discussed an email that I had received days earlier. This email was for Pritect, a Kinect protective accessory. The thing that made the Pritect accessory stand out is that it is not really designed to protect the Kinect in so much as it is designed to protect you FROM your Kinect. I’ll let the press release content explain:
…By Microsoft’s own admission, the Kinect camera has the potential to record advertising data in any room where it’s placed. According to Microsoft’s COO of Interactive Entertainment Business, Dennis Durkin, if people are watching a sports event, the Kinect’s camera can identify what jersey they are wearing so it can determine the team they support. Such data is valuable to advertisers who can then tailor their advertising to that household. Whether by this type of business practice, malicious hackers, or some other unforeseen threat, if the camera is on, even when not in use, and remains exposed to the room, personal privacy has the potential to be compromised for anyone who owns a Kinect….
Is there perhaps a bit of conspiracy theory reactionism involved in the design and marketing of this product? Yes, of course there is. Is it out of place? Not necessarily. The Kinect is capable of terrible things. To quote Paul Harper, inventor of the Pritect: “For the first time ever, we have invited into our living rooms a technology which can not only capture video and sound data, but can also identify specific individuals using advanced biometrics, or 3-d facial recognition.”
[slickr-flickr search=”sets” set=”72157629273060054″ items=”20″]
With proper reason in place for such a device, now we look at its functionality and design. It functions exactly as it should. It is a perfectly cut piece of glossy black plastic that expertly matches the design and feel of the Kinect device, with a little window to let the “Xbox 360” badge show through. The Pritect does not impair audio control of the Kinect, it simply blocks the light needed to activate the camera. With soft felt circles on the inside, it slides on and off easily, without scratching or otherwise damaging the Kinect. The suggested retail price is $14.99, but it can be found for less if you’re willing to do a few minutes of Interneting.
|Great construction and design|
Blocks unwanted eyes from peeping
Serves to keep the Kinect dust free
|A piece of well placed paper|
could probably do the same