GameSpot: Problems with Kinect and Dark-Skinned Users

A story on GameSpot details the problems two dark-skinned site employees had with Microsoft’s Kinect, the just-released, controller-free add-on for the Xbox 360.

According to the site, the two employees in question had problems with Kinect’s facial recognition abilities. One GameSpoter’s face was recognized “inconsistently,” while when it came to the face of the other staffer, Kinect was “never able to properly identify the other despite repeated calibration attempts.”

To make it even more confounding, Kinect had “no problems” recognizing the face of a third dark-skinned employee. No hurdles were reported with Kinect’s skeletal tracking system for any of the employees, which is good, as it is the primary means of controlling on-screen action.

The problem may or may not be that big of a deal however, as GameSpot wrote:

The system’s inability to recognize a user only means that he or she would need to sign in manually and some games’ features may not work properly as a result. For example, when a second player joins in to Kinect Adventures during the title’s drop-in, drop-out multiplayer, the system can’t bring up that player’s proper in-game avatar automatically if it can’t identify the new user first.

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  1. 0
    kurifu says:

    This would imply that most class action lawsuites are designed in the interest of the class, and not to profit the firm bringing it to court. Last I checked, in North America, class action lawsuites are generally filed when the is a high enough statistical chance of some form of judgement or ruling, not when it is a fair lawsuite.

  2. 0
    Arell says:

    Anyone remember the show, Better Off Ted?  There was an episode where the company wired all the technology in the building (lights, doors, elevators, water fountains) to facial recognition cameras, to save money.  But the cameras wouldn’t recognize black people.  Lights would shut off on them when white people left the room, they got trapped in rooms and elevators by the automatic doors, couldn’t get a drink, etc.  The company eventually hired white people to follow the black employees around to activate things for them, and put in a separate water fountain for blacks (it was more hilarious than it sounds).

  3. 0
    Speeder says:

    I knew this issue ever since MS bought the company that invented the camera… (I was named Z Cam or something like that), there was reports of black (not just dark skinned) journalists not getting even skeletal tracking to work.

    Maurício Gomes

  4. 0
    Hevach says:

    As I and another poster mentioned, virutally every face recognition device on the market has problems like this. Some can’t track black faces, some can’t pick white faces out in bright light or against a light background, some think asians have their eyes closed. The biggest consumer victory I’ve heard of over the fact is a refund of the price difference down to a comparable modle without blink detection.

    As for the other poster, a wheelchair bound or obese person can collect if a theme park doesn’t have accessability ramps for them to get in. They can’t collect because they’re physically or medically unable to go on the rides.

  5. 0
    Chris Kimberley says:

    If anyone’s going to sue I’d expect it to be those who are entirely prevented from using the device.  Like people who need wheelchairs.  Or people who are too out of shape (read "morbidly obese") to play for more than a minute.


    Chris Kimberley

  6. 0
    Wraith108 says:

    Hasn’t this happened basically every time some company comes out with a facial recognition thing, I remember there was a story with a camera thinking Asian/Oriental people had their eyes closed.

  7. 0
    Hevach says:

    This is kind of a recurring problem with this kind of tech it seems. My camera has face recognition, and it’s very inconsistent with dark skinned subjects – sometimes even a deep tan will throw it off. I’ve seen pictures online showing how cameras with blink detection will occasionally detect asian faces as blinking.

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