A new Microsoft patent has been designed to watch the watchers — and charge a licence fee based on how many people it sees.
Over at our sister site GameSpot, Dan Chiappini has a very detailed story looking at a newly found patent application from Microsoft.
The "Content Distribution Regulation by Viewing User" application basically details a technology that will use cameras in the home or on mobile devices to calculate how many people are viewing a particular product — be it music, gaming or film related — and then compare that to how many people are allowed for by the licence agreement, shutting down the media if it is exceeded.
As Dan put it:
The technology works by using cameras (no explicit mention is made of the Kinect or a Kinect successor) found in home and mobile devices to take still or moving images of the consumers and their environment. The system then compares the number of viewers visible in the frame with the licensing terms attached to the product; prompting watchers to purchase additional licences (as required) for each person watching.
Check out the full story over at GameSpot for some slightly chilling reading about how even your own lounge room won't be private for much longer.