Microsoft patents Xbox achievements for watching ads

One of the new features of the Xbox One could be the ability to unlock and complete achievements for watching advertisements.

Yes, you read that right: Microsoft wants to reward your product-gazing time with a digital pat on the back, an icon on your Xbox Live profile that will show just how dedicated you are to completing all of your gaming goals, even if they have little to do with gaming itself.

The Washington-based firm patented the idea of providing awards and achievements across the “TV ecosystem,” according to CNet, including achievements designed to encourage increased viewing of advertising content.

The patent (a figure of which is pictured above) was filed back in 2011, but only published this month. The technology may never make it into reality, but given the potential for Microsoft to pull in advertisers with it, and given the widely perceived focus of the Xbox One on TV content, it may only be a matter of time before something of this nature creeps onto the console.

The revamped Kinect can recognise users and detect if they are actually engaging with content, so Microsoft will theoretically be able to pitch the advertising-friendly nature of the Xbox One. Add to this the ability to detect heartbeats, which can show if a person is excited by what he or she is seeing, and we have something that might equally excite advertisers.

Since many people will be unwilling to sit and watch ads to up their gamer score, Microsoft has also proposed offering physical rewards, such as coupons or actual products.

Update: We received a comment from Vanessa Barnett, Technology & Media Partner at law firm Charles Russell:

"The patent filing by Microsoft is an interesting one – proper Big Brother in my living room, it seems. But, pause for thought, is this not what many products and services already do? If we think about the functionality of online shopping, personal video recorders and loyalty cards, it's the same end game isn't it. What's new with Microsoft is that the deployment of the 'Big Brother' aspects are very evolved, technologically. So I predict the usual strong 'anti' reaction, followed by a spell of calm, followed by mass adoption. Why? Because that's what happens every time we see new technology – and this one has some consumer benefits wrapped up inside. The key to this, from a legal perspective, will be transparency – being clear about what data is being collected, how it's being used, and – of course – the ability to say 'no thanks'."