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Microsoft's interactive Kinect NUads rolling out in 'late spring'

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Microsoft's Kinect NUads will start rolling out in the spring.

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Kinect nuads
Kinect nuads

Microsoft originally unveiled its interactive NUads almost a year ago and the company now says it will begin rolling them out in "late spring." NUads take advantage of the Kinect sensor to let viewers interact with adverts or launch them from the Xbox 360 dashboard. The design goal is to get users to interact with the advert at their own discretion by saying "Xbox share" to post an update about the advert to a social network like Facebook or to control other aspects of the advert. A typical use case could involve a viewer sharing an advert to identify the song or performer involved. NUads will also be available on Windows PCs thanks to the Kinect for Windows hardware and SDK.

Whether or not viewers will interact with the ads remains to be seen, but Microsoft is positioning NUads as a tool for advertisers primarily. The technology does raise some privacy issues, though, as Microsoft's Kinect sensor can determine how many people are in a room and read their reaction to adverts. In an interview with CNET, Microsoft's Lyn Watts says developers will need to pay attention to privacy and ensure they fully disclose how data is being used. Microsoft also says its Kinect privacy policy ensures that Xbox 360 and Xbox Live do not use "any information captured by Kinect for advertising targeting purposes and NUads is no exception." Despite the guarantees, it might not help some people feel comfortable that their Kinect sensor is watching them during a 30 second ad slot.

Some early implementations of NUads-style technology can be found in apps like KinectShop or Swivvel by FaceCake. Both show how retailers could create a virtual shop that lets Kinect users try on clothing while using the sensor to record body dimensions to automatically select the most relevant sizes and styles. So far we've only seen concept applications that use Kinect in this way, but NUads is the first step towards more interactive ways of using Kinect commercially.

Update: Microsoft has reached out to say that it has "strict policies in place that prohibit the collection, storage or use of Kinect data for the purpose of advertising." Additionally, the company and its advertising customers "are not collecting or using data obtained via the Kinect" according to a Microsoft spokesperson.