Is Xbox Kinect racist? Not really, but it does have issues with facial recognition

Microsoft’s Kinect system appears to have the same problem reported late last year with HP webcams: the software for facial recognition appears to be racist. In reality, it’s a good headline, but it’s not really true; it’s really just a software issue.

According to GameSpot, testing of Kinect’s facial recognition features showed they might not work properly for some darker-skinned gamers. To be clear: this only affects the facial recognition portion. The gameplay, of the system, using skeletal tracking, appeared to fine for all GameSpot employees. The facial recognition failure would mean that the user would have to login manually.

The problem, GameSpot said, was that two dark-skinned GameSpot employees had problems getting the system’s facial recognition features to work. While most gameplay works fine, as we said above, it could be an issue with some features, such as in Kinect Adventures’ drop-in, drop-out multiplayer. Kinect would not be able to bring up a player’s proper in-game avatar if it can’t identify the new user.

Kinect is really just using webcams along with some software, so this shouldn’t really be a surprise. Last December, a pair of employees at Toppers Camping Center in Waller, TX posted a video claiming HP webcams were racist, but it was, they eventually said, all meant to be snarky and fun. In reality, as HP noted in a support statement, certain lighting conditions could cause an issue.

All that aside, with Kinect just now launching, we will soon see how much of a problem this is, “in the wild,” and if users complain about it or not.

You can watch a demo of Kinect Adventures from E3, and also the HP video from last year, in the sidebar.

By: Michael Santo