It's probably worth unplugging that Kinect peripheral you might have hooked up to your Xbox 360 - according to a new patent filed by Microsoft, the motion-sensing camera could soon be used to police your entertainment usage, locking playback if a non-licenced user is present.
Called "Content Distribution Regulation by Viewing User," the patent is described as "a content presentation system and method allowing content providers to regulate the presentation of content on a per-user-view basis."
"Content is distributed to consuming devices, such as televisions, set-top boxes and digital displays, with an associated license option on the number of individual consumers or viewers allowed to consume the content." When you purchase or rent films and music via Xbox, you own one licence for yourself. What this does, essentially, is force that content to only be viewable by yourself. Great for parties.
Continues the patent, "the limitation may comprise a number of user views, a number of user views over time, a number of simultaneous user views, views tied to user identities, views limited to user age or any variation or combination thereof, all tied to the number of actual content consumers allowed to view 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."
Basically, if you have a friend over for a film night, you better make sure that you pay for the extra person's validity to watch the film with you. Otherwise, playback is stopped. The patent references multiple camera and console configurations, however, suggesting that the technology would not necessarily be limited to Kinect.
It's a very bizarre and strange patent that seems to suggest a Big Brother-style play by Microsoft in the future. If you're curious, you can check out the filing right here