Microsoft could use its Xbox One console to monitor users' viewing habits.
The firm is planning on tracking Xbox One users' viewing habits and achievements awarded for watching certain content. This is according to a patent called 'Awards and Achievements Across TV Ecosystem' which Microsoft applied for in November. See also: New Xbox One release date, specs, features and price in UK.
"Traditional television viewing experiences tend to be passive, and do not frequently provide opportunities for a viewer to engage with the programming." states the application. "To increase interactive viewing and encourage a user to watch one or more particular items of video content, awards and achievements may be tied to those items of video content."
It appears that users will be set viewing goals, ranging from adverts, to a single episode of a programme, to an entire series. These viewing goals could be set by producers, distributors, and advertisers.
Once the goal has been reached, the user will be awarded with points towards their 'viewer score', an addition to their player avatar or unlocking a locked achievement. The patent also mentions vouchers or even a physical prize. See also: Does the Xbox One require an always-on internet connection?
"By providing content viewing goals and awarding the viewer for reaching the goals, the present disclosure provides for an interactive television viewing experience. Additionally, by tying the awards and achievements to particular items of video or advertising content, viewers may be encouraged to increase their viewership of the content, thus increasing advertising opportunities. " added Microsoft.
The patent goes on to say that the new Kinect sensor could monitor the viewer's behaviour and an action might need to be performed to reach a viewing goal. See also: Xbox One goes up for pre-order: Where to buy the new Xbox.
It's unclear whether this technology will actually be implemented in the Xbox One which is expected to be released later this year. It could well be an opt-in system so viewers can retain their privacy.