The new Xbox unveiled today comes with an upgraded Kinect sensor that primarily allows for playing games without a controller and controlling TV with your voice. But it also has powerful features that give the device—and the developers who write code for it—access to biometric information at an unprecedented scale for consumer technology.
The new Kinect has a microphone, a high-definition video camera, an infrared camera (to capture scenes that are poorly lit), and a depth sensor (to map space in three dimensions). Combining the readings from these sensors, the Xbox One is able to recognize people and measure their body position, facial expression, and even heart rate.
Games and apps developed for the platform could adjust their difficulty based on the athletic exertion of the gamer. A virtual trainer could motivate you to try harder or correct your form. Interactive televisions shows could gain viewer sentiment by collecting mood through facial expression, providing sitcom writers and presidential candidates valuable feedback.
Similar technology has already been used to diagnose depression, for instance. But with these sensors soon headed to millions of living rooms, the potential applications seem vast.