Kinect “Can’t Recognise Black People”


Microsoft’s newly released Kinect controller is facing accusations of racism, after reports of it being unable to recognise dark-skinned people surfaced.

GameSpot employees reportedly had trouble using the device, and CNN soon picked the story up; GameSpot’s account of the problems is below:

“Part of Microsoft’s $500 million marketing push for Kinect includes positioning it as an accessible entertainment device for all audiences. However, it may be more accessible to some than others.

While testing out the Kinect, two dark-skinned GameSpot employees experienced problems with the system’s facial recognition abilities. The system recognized one employee inconsistently, while it was never able to properly identify the other despite repeated calibration attempts.

However, Kinect had no problems identifying a third dark-skinned GameSpot employee, recognizing his face after a single calibration. Lighter-skinned employees were also consistently picked up on the first try.

It’s important to note that the problems were only experienced with the system’s facial recognition feature and don’t prevent users from playing Kinect games. Skeletal tracking, a primary means of controlling games with Kinect, appeared to work the same for all GameSpot employees.

The system’s inability to recognize a user only means that he or she would need to sign in manually and some games’ features may not work properly as a result.

For example, when a second player joins in to Kinect Adventures during the title’s drop-in, drop-out multiplayer, the system can’t bring up that player’s proper in-game avatar automatically if it can’t identify the new user first.”

Microsoft now expects to sell 5,000,000 units, so even problems only affecting a small proportion of users may turn out to be widely experienced, and in the US such problems are likely to be politically sensitive to say the least.

Since only the facial recognition feature is affected, the problem is not quite as bad as it could be – but it has not stopped detractors from immediately labelling it a racist product. If previous events are any guide, a class action suit may not be out of the question.

Microsoft stops just short of telling inconveniently black users to bleach their faces:

“Kinect works with people of all skin tones. And just like a camera, optimal lighting is best. Anyone experiencing issues with facial recognition should adjust their lighting settings, as instructed in the Kinect Tuner.”

Previously Microsoft has told badly dressed users to strip off or wear something sensible, its philosophy apparently being that consumers should adapt their dress, rooms, lighting and now skin tone to Kinect, and not Kinect to them.

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    Comment by Anonymous
    02:11 06/11/2010 # ! Quality (+1.0)

    "accessible entertainment device for all audiences"

    what is more accessible than a game controller? if you are handicap as long as you can use your fingers you can play a video game.

    most people with disabilities can move their fingers. conversely: most people with disabilities cant move their limbs. (if they have them)

    Avatar of TenguSan
    Comment by TenguSan
    03:09 06/11/2010 # ! Quality (+0.8)

    i think that all products doesn't include obvious limitations.

    FUN FOR ALL AGES!! ... except the ones who are dead~ ^^

    Comment by Anonymous
    04:13 06/11/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    when a product is marketed in the US as accessible, it is in reference to handicap people not sure if thats the same elsewhere in the world.

    Comment by คภєк๏
    07:50 06/11/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Aperture Science
    We do what we must
    because we can.
    For the good of all of us.
    Except the ones who are dead.

    Comment by Anonymous
    02:12 06/11/2010 # ! Quality (+1.0)

    "Optimal lighting is best" "change their lighting settings"

    Seriously, anything they could say in response to this is going to sound even more hilariously racist. Just so you know, I'm black, (Brightness -60) and I find this FUCKING hilarious. XD

    Avatar of Schrobby
    Comment by Schrobby
    02:35 06/11/2010 # ! Quality (+0.8)

    Brightness -60? Epic comment. ^_^

    Avatar of Persona
    Comment by Persona
    02:55 06/11/2010 # ! Quality (+1.0)

    Once you go black, you can't kinect

    Avatar of kyuusei
    Comment by kyuusei
    01:58 06/11/2010 # ! Quality (+1.0)

    Not exactly racism. For example its not that I choose to be unable to see a black guy walking in the street wearing a black hoodie and black jeans in the middle of the night while I'm driving along, its just that...well he's black and that means he tends to blend into the darkness rather better than a white dude.

    Comment by คภєк๏
    07:48 06/11/2010 # ! Good (+0.6)

    I was once accused of racism for not letting someone come into our store to shop after we had closed. It's a popular card to play, whether it makes sense or not.

    Avatar of Eddyak
    Comment by Eddyak
    03:27 06/11/2010 # ! Good (+0.4)

    I lol'd when I heard that people were actually calling the console racist. Some people just shouldn't be allowed to have kids.

    Comment by Anonymous
    09:44 06/11/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Maybe not quite "racism", but you have to wonder. What are MS's hiring practices if they don't have at least one darker-skinned employee (even meditteranean and some asians could have darker skin too) on staff to do product testing...

    Avatar of Kwonnie
    Comment by Kwonnie
    06:56 07/11/2010 # ! Neutral (0)


    Sometimes, it's funny to call things like this racist.

    Comment by Anonymous
    10:11 06/11/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Or as Kirk Lazarus puts it, "Earth Mamma's natural night camo"...

    Comment by Anonymous
    Avatar of Megidola
    Comment by Megidola
    02:05 06/11/2010 # ! Quality (+1.0)

    This was shown to be just a coincidence when tested, it's due to room lighting not skin colour. Besides, it's not like kinect doesn't have enough flaws already without adding unfounded racist allegations to the list.

    Avatar of jamesownsall
    Comment by jamesownsall
    01:57 06/11/2010 # ! Good (+0.6)

    Microsoft: Reinventing racism.

    Avatar of obro
    Comment by obro
    02:38 06/11/2010 # ! Quality (+1.0)


    Avatar of Schrobby
    Comment by Schrobby
    04:32 06/11/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Black Xbox gamers are on fire.

    Comment by Anonymous
    11:08 06/11/2010 # ! Neutral (+0.4)

    You are bound to shit bricks when confronted to something hard, big and black that can sudenly pop up a red glitering eye, now won't you?

    Avatar of Azure Xuchilbara
    Comment by Azure Xuchilbara
    06:08 06/11/2010 # ! Good (+0.4)

    Ah~ Now I remember~

    I watched something about how Japanese gamers found the original Black X-Box 'offensive' and 'intimidating' in G4 a long time ago...

    Avatar of Schrobby
    Comment by Schrobby
    09:17 06/11/2010 # ! Neutral (+0.2)

    Intimidating? Because it was big and black? lulz

    Avatar of Yama-jii
    Comment by Yama-jii
    02:54 06/11/2010 # ! Quality (+1.0)

    If the Chinese copy Microsoft and create a chinese version of Kinect it won't recognise Japanese people.

    Comment by Anonymous
    04:12 06/11/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    More like, it will accidently recognize Japanese people half the time.

    Comment by Anonymous
    05:24 06/11/2010 # ! Good (+0.6)

    More like, I've lived in China and they always have to sing their fucking anthem every single goddamn time I went to some big event or some opera, or some orchestra concert.

    I don't want to sing that stupid fucking song every single time I want to play a gam-

    Wait, if they make a Kinect, it's never going to be for games... The Chinese government wants their youth UNCORRUPTED, right?

    Avatar of Schrobby
    Comment by Schrobby
    04:33 06/11/2010 # ! Neutral (+0.2)

    More like, it will recognize nobody unless the gamer is wrapped in a chinese flag.

    Avatar of Rakshasa
    Comment by Rakshasa
    09:55 06/11/2010 # ! Neutral (+0.2)

    Singing it when your nation won gold or something is ok, but creepy when you sing it before every single fucking sport event in your own country. (That don't involve a foreign team or anything...)

    Comment by Anonymous
    08:51 06/11/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Singing the national anthem of your country is not being a nationalist. When the situation calls for it, It's showing pride for your country and your beliefs. Or showing respect for fallen comrades. So don't spout BS. Now if it's at every event, on every station, in every province, sang every day of the week, 24/7. Then I could see your point.

    Comment by Anonymous
    20:10 06/07/2012 # ! Neutral (0)

    Most of them don't know the words or are too drunk to remember them.

    Comment by คภєк๏
    07:46 06/11/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    I don't, but I'm not a Nationalist.

    Comment by Anonymous
    06:50 06/11/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    and the American don't sing their anthems in major sports events?

    Avatar of Schrobby
    Comment by Schrobby
    02:30 06/11/2010 # ! Good (+0.6)

    Even consoles can be racist. lulz

    Avatar of King Tiger
    Comment by King Tiger
    02:44 06/11/2010 # ! Quality (+1.0)

    i didn't think it was possible 'til now go figure

    on a side note though that fact that they are telling people how to dress and what rooms to use for kinect troubles me even more looks like mind control has become the new face of gaming

    PS3 sure looks good right now....

    Avatar of jamesownsall
    Comment by jamesownsall
    02:51 06/11/2010 # ! Quality (+1.0)

    Just like how Steve Jobs tried to influence lifestyle by telling people to hold iPhones different to how people usually hold all phones.

    Well, as much as M$ has failed, Apple is still worse. The day I buy Apple products for fashion(their PC still has work-related uses like industry-regular Final Cut Pro) is the day I become a fag and I'll see to it that it won't happen.

    Comment by Anonymous
    10:04 06/11/2010 # ! Neutral (+0.4)

    Then Microsoft should try to provide a fix or workaround, telling the users to figure something out is not very polite.

    Avatar of Schrobby
    Comment by Schrobby
    04:29 06/11/2010 # ! Neutral (+0.2)

    Apple - selling mediocre products made in China for huge profits. Marketing genius.

    Comment by Anonymous
    07:42 06/11/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    if the consoles are racist then surely it isnt microsoft's fault?

    Comment by Anonymous
    06:10 06/11/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    This peripheral was designed by the FUCKING MOON MAN!!

    Avatar of PewPewPew!
    Comment by PewPewPew!
    03:00 06/11/2010 # ! Neutral (+0.2)

    As well as the fact that Microsoft is able to sell-off "failures" quite decently. Remember WinME and Vista?

    Comment by Anonymous
    04:43 07/11/2010 # ! Neutral (+0.2)

    Sure, ME was a failure as an OS, but it gave us ME-tan (and by extension all the other OS-tan), so on that front it won pretty hard ^^

    Avatar of Lord_Mew
    Comment by Lord_Mew
    02:25 06/11/2010 # ! Good (+0.6)

    I never thought this quote might be handy for anything other than for "better off ted" but I was wrong.

    Ted: The system doesn't see black people?
    Veronica: I know. Weird, huh?
    Ted: That's more than weird, Veronica. That's basically, well... racist.
    Veronica: The company's position is that it's actually the opposite of racist, because it's not targeting black people. It's just ignoring them. They insist the worst people can call it is "indifferent."
    Ted: Well, they know it has to be fixed, right? Please... at least say they know that.
    Veronica: Of course they do, and they're working on it. In the meantime they'd like everyone to celebrate the fact that it sees Hispanics, Asians, Pacific Islanders, and Jews.

    you can't ignore that this comment didn't put a smile on your face XD

    Avatar of Schrobby
    Comment by Schrobby
    02:42 06/11/2010 # ! Good (+0.4)

    Too bad it sees Jews. We could make jokes about the NaziBox.

    Comment by Anonymous
    08:37 06/11/2010 # ! Neutral (+0.2)

    There are some black Jews out there. Especially in Israel. They get treated like second class shit though.

    Comment by Anonymous
    11:47 06/11/2010 # ! Neutral (+0.2)

    Homosexual black Jews. A natural weapon created by the planet to protect it against Nazis O_O

    Comment by Anonymous
    12:05 06/11/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Schrobby, pretty sure it was Palestinians claiming the Jews were sterilizing them, not the Ethiopian (black) Jews. However, at one point the Israelis did toss out donations of Ethiopian blood due to high risk of disease. I could also care less about their fighting with the Palestinians since, if Mexico started dropping mortars on us, do you doubt we would take similar if not a harsher recourse? Take into account that the Palestinians are being supplied with food and water by their enemy, Israel. I have never heard of a country providing for their enemy like that. It is insane. They are insane. But are they evil? Maybe, but no worse than us and certainly not as bad as a people (Palestinians) who elect a terrorist leader (Arafat) and later a terrorist organization (Hamas) to lead them. Still, if you really want to hate Jews then hate the intolerance of their religion…not the mindless followers. Anyone can be brainwashed from birth.

    Avatar of Schrobby
    Comment by Schrobby
    02:54 07/11/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    No, it was the black Jews, it was even on TV. They had a medicine in Isreal that has a high probability of making the user sterile, and it was prescribed almost exclusively to black Jews.
    Coincidence? Yeah, right.

    Here, I found a video of it:

    Avatar of Schrobby
    Comment by Schrobby
    09:23 06/11/2010 # ! Neutral (-0.2)

    I know. They seem to even try to sterilize the black Jews with certain medicine to get rid of them. Add to that how they treat the Palestinians and you realize the Israelis themselves are the biggest Nazis around today.

    Comment by Anonymous
    03:16 06/11/2010 # ! Neutral (+0.4)

    Irony: Kinect itself is black.

    Comment by Anonymous
    06:09 06/11/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Bet it attracts dust...

    Avatar of wolfnanaki
    Comment by wolfnanaki
    03:52 06/11/2010 # ! Good (+0.4)

    It's not racism, explicitly. It's the way that the Kinect's camera captures faces. It was the same problem with HP's webcam's facial recognition system.

    Basically, it tracks the structure of your face based on the light that reflects off it. But if you have a darker skin tone, not as much lighting is reflected back into the camera, and so it can't recognize your face. Just...shine a bright light over your face while it scans, I guess. Maybe that would fix it? :U

    Comment by Anonymous
    04:52 06/11/2010 # ! Neutral (+0.4)

    Why complicate, just put on some white-ish halloween mask on. Problem solved. Face recognized... sort of.

    Avatar of Schrobby
    Comment by Schrobby
    06:24 06/11/2010 # ! Neutral (-0.2)

    *imagines Kinect gaming in a black family with masks*

    Pinhead & Pennywise vs Freddy Krüger & Jason? lol

    Comment by Anonymous
    03:59 06/11/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    You do know the Kinect uses infrared to do the tracking right?

    Avatar of Misaki Ki
    Comment by Misaki Ki
    05:29 06/11/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    "You do know the Kinect uses infrared to do the tracking right?"

    ...Not sure if serious.

    Avatar of Misaki Ki
    Comment by Misaki Ki
    06:02 06/11/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Ah, editing ran out - but before any one replies. Was going at "It doesn't use light, it uses IR...light!"

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