In an "Ask Microsoft Anything About Xbox One" feature over at IGN, Microsoft revealed another change of heart related to its upcoming Xbox One console: it doesn't have to be plugged into the Xbox One if you don't want to use it. This revelation came from Microsoft's Marc Whitten. In two sections about Kinect, Whitten explained what the different states of having the Kinect motion sensing and voice recognition technology turned on and off will mean:
Since Kinect must be plugged in for the Xbox One to function, what happens if your Kinect breaks? Like if it falls off the top of your TV onto a hardwood floor or something? Will the console cease to function?
WHITTEN: Xbox One is designed to work with Kinect plugged in. It makes gaming better in many ways – from the ability to say “Xbox On” and get right to your personalized homescreen, to the ability to control your TV through voice, Smartglass and more. Kinect allows you to search for your content, instantly move between games and your personalized dash and more with just your voice. Kinect helps you pick up and play by automatically knowing which controller you have in your hands. No more need to interrupt your friends game or navigate through multiple UI screens to sign in and tell the system which controller you are holding. It will even bind the controller to the console if its currently unbound – no searching for special buttons! Of course – these are just a few of the system wide benefits of having Kinect. Games use Kinect in a variety of amazing ways from adding voice to control your squad mates to adding lean and other simple controls beyond the controller to full immersive gameplay. That said, like online, the console will still function if Kinect isn’t plugged in, although you won’t be able to use any feature or experience that explicitly uses the sensor. (editor's note: emphasis on this line is ours, not IGN's.)
Whitten also explains what having the Kinect "off" really means:
How “off” can Kinect be when the system is in use?
WHITTEN: You have the ability to completely turn the sensor off in your settings. When in this mode, the sensor is not collecting any information. Any functionality that relies on voice, video, gesture or more won’t work. We still support using it for IR blasting in this mode. You can turn the sensor back on at any time through settings, and if you enter into a required Kinect experience (like Kinect Sports Rivals for instance), you’ll get a message asking if you want to turn the sensor back on in order to continue.
It's hard to deny that Microsoft has made great strides in turning the negative reaction to news coming out of its E3 press conference in June into positives by listening to fans and changing its policies on a number of issues including used games, game and Xbox Live Gold account sharing, publishing constraints for indie developers on the platform, always-online, and so much more….
Source: IGN by way of Andrew Eisen