Microsoft files patent for Kinect age detection

A Microsoft patent, filed in March 2010, demonstrates the company's interest in enabling the Kinect to determine the relative ages of players in the room, by looking at body metrics. The new feature would enable the console to display age-appropriate content on the fly, adjusting said content if younger players enter or leave the room.

The USPTO patent (via Eurogamer) explains that the "age group" of a player can be determined based on the 3D body model that Kinect captures. Relative head and body size, arm length-to-body ratio, "and/or a ratio of head-width to shoulder width," can all be factors.

Based on the user's determined age, his or her profile is automatically updated with the appropriate parental control permissions. Content can also be substituted when a person belonging to a lower age group enters the field of view.

The patent also describes how the parental control feature will handle when folks of differing ages are both present. For example, an adult could watch an R-rated movie alone, and a child might only have access to G-rated movies. However, when both are present, a PG-rating threshold would be implemented for both parties.

As cool as giving Kinect the age-guessing skills of a carnival barker might sound, it's really just a fancy parental-control tool. Be that as it may, good parenting will continue to be the best way to make sure your kids aren't watching or playing things they shouldn't.

There's no word when (or if) Microsoft plans to roll the new tech, and the patent is still awaiting approval.