Kinect to start reading ages?

We’re already worried that our Xbox is going to grow a mind of its own and kill us in our sleep, and this latest possible feature for Kinect only adds to that theory.

A Microsoft patent filed in March 2010 suggests that the controllerless device could soon start working out the age of its users and blocking younger gamers from restricted content. If a youngster were to walk in the room while we were digging an axe into someone’s head in Rise of Nightmares, say, then the game would switch over to ‘substitute content’ until they’d left the room.

Interested in how it works? As the USPTO patent states (via Geekwire): “The metrics can relate to, e.g., a relative size of a head of the body, a ratio of arm length to body height, a ratio of body height to head height, and/or a ratio of head width to shoulder width.”

“The metrics are particularly indicative of age group. Based on the age group, a profile of the user is automatically updated with various parental control settings which control access to the electronic media device. Also, currently output content can be replaced by substitute content when a person in a lower age group enters the field of view.”

Not scratching your head yet? Let’s mix things up with two age groups at the same time: “Note that when multiple people are in a room, they may be associated with different age groups. Generally, a policy can be implemented that the lowest age group prevails so that the youngest person is not exposed to inappropriate content. However, it is also possible for an older age group to prevail, based on a policy that it is acceptable for the younger person to view the content when an older person is present.

“A modification of this policy is that the older age group prevails, up to a maximum content rating. For instance, a child alone may be permitted to view only a G rated movie, while an adult alone is permitted to view an R rated movie. As a compromise, the child and parent together are permitted to view, say, a PG rated movie. Thus, the allowed content rating is intermediate to the lower and higher content ratings.”

It’s not being used right now then, and may never actually be implemented. But for something that gets us to clear our living room before we can use it, Kinect thing sure is smart.