Microsoft has acquired a new patent related to the Xbox Kinect. Titled Content Distribution Regulation by Viewing User, the new patent will allow content providers to regulate who gets to watch it and who doesn't.

Here is a description of the patent, which Microsoft had applied for in April 2011, and published on November 1: “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.”

An experience like nothing else..

Big Brother is always watching

The patent gives Microsoft to apply draconian digital rights management (DRM) to its content on the Xbox 360. For example, if more than one person is detected to be watching a movie, the movie will stop playing unless another license or subscription is purchased for the extra viewer. In another scenario, if a person enters the room when one is watching a movie, the Kinect would recognise the presence of the new person and stop playing the movie. It would resume only after another license or subscription is purchased for the extra viewer. A grace period has been deployed to deal with the possibility of a person entering and leaving the room in a short while.

According to the patent, “For example, a user within the display area of the [the television] may be tracked using the capture device [the Kinect] such that the gestures and/ or movements of the user may be captured to determine the number of people present, whether users are viewing content and/ or may be interpreted as controls that may be used to affect the application being executed by computing environment”. This has the possibility of being used to control the number of viewers for content, much like in a movie theatre. This could also lead to the possiblity of simultaneous releases for movies in theatres and on Xbox Live.

Last month, in a dashboard update, Microsoft had removed the Twitter and Facebook apps from the Xbox 360 dashboard, as the company wants you to use the newly introduced Internet Explorer for social networking. “We are retiring the Facebook and Twitter apps,” Microsoft confirmed in a statement. “Xbox Live subscribers will have the ability to access these sites through Internet Explorer on Xbox, available through the Web Hub located on the new dashboard.”

Perhaps the biggest feature in the new dashboard update for the Xbox 360 other than Internet Explorer is the inclusion of Xbox Music. Microsoft had officially taken the wraps off its latest attempt at a music service in October. Xbox Music shows that the company is focusing on the Xbox 360 as more than just a gaming machine; the company looks at the console as an entertainment machine. This can be seen through the inclusion of many apps over the years, such as Netflix, Facebook and ESPN, among others.

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