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Microsoft Patents Method To Limit Content Viewers Using Kinect

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Posted on November 7, 2012 AT 11:40am

Patents give us a chance to look at ideas or projects that companies are working on, one which may or may not ever see the light of day. This new Kinect-related patent from Microsoft? It’s a doozy!

Here’s the abstract for the patent:

A content presentation system and method allowing content providers to regulate the presentation of content on a per-user-view basis. Content is distributed an associated license option on the number of individual consumers or viewers allowed to consume the content. Consumers are presented with a content selection and a choice of licenses allowing consumption of the content. The users consuming the content on a display device are monitored so that if the number of user-views licensed is exceeded, remedial action may be taken.

In plain English: Microsoft could use their Kinect sensor to detect how many people are in a room, and then limit access to content if there are too many people. The system would have the option to continually track the amount of people watching at any one time, as well as the ability to present an option to “change the license” if the number of people watching exceeds the allowed number.

So, let’s give one example. Let’s say Microsoft is offering up the chance to purchase and stream the latest WWE pay-per-view via an Xbox 360. However, that evil Vince McMahon wants people to pay their fare share—so the WWE tells Microsoft that they want no more than four people to watch the PPV in the same room for only one payment. If you have more than four people in the room, maybe you wouldn’t be able to watch it. Or, maybe when the Kinect detects how many people there are, it would ask you to pay an additional fee for everybody beyond the first four viewers.

Now, the big question: is Microsoft actually going to do this? At this point, we’ve absolutely no idea. Companies patent plenty of ideas that never end up getting used—and I think Microsoft would be crazy to even try something like this.

But—they could try. And if they put a system in place such as this, it could mean they might get exclusive or early content that they wouldn’t get otherwise, and that other platforms might not get. So, you just never know.

So there’s one possible future for us folks—having to ask your friends to hide behind furniture when watching a movie rental, because you invited too many people over.

Eric L. Patterson, Executive Editor
Eric L. Patterson got his start via self-publishing game-related fanzines in junior high, and now has one goal in life: making sure EGM has as much coverage of niche Japanese games as he can convince them to fit in. Eric’s also active in the gaming community on a personal level, being an outspoken voice on topics such as equality in gaming and consumer rights. Stalk him on Twitter: @pikoeri. Meet the rest of the crew.

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