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New patent suggests Microsoft bringing emotion-based ads to Kinect

Suffering through commercials that have little to no personal impact could soon be a thing of the past, if Microsoft has anything to do with it. According to a 7 June patent application, the company that built the Xbox 360 Kinect sensor is looking to target advertisements based on your emotions.

Conventionally, a user enters a search query in a Web browser, and advertisers may bid on the request in order to advertise accordingly, the patent said. Some advertisers may choose to target delivery based on gender, time of day, or location. But the typical ad may have difficulty representing its product because keywords fail to completely convey a user's context, Microsoft said in its patent.

Through the Kinect's camera, users would be studied for reactions, speech patterns and body movements, all stored in an online log and run through an algorithm to determine an emotional state that is positive, happy, confused, neutral, negative, angry or sad, according to the patent. Ad targeting will also take into consideration the user's Post code, keywords, age, location or language.

"An advertisement engine selects advertisements that are emotionally compatible based on the assigned emotional states and the desired emotional states provided by the advertisers," the patent said.

Microsoft did not immediately respond to request for comment.

The company has previously hinted at integrating users' emotions into their gaming experience, New Scientist said in 2011, but hasn't taken the steps to make that a reality.

The Kinect camera has largely been used as a motion-capture technique that translates gestures to on-screen, in-game actions. Now, Microsoft is turning its Big Brother eye on users to collect data, in an issue that could raise questions of invasiveness, or simply bring users a more personal online experience.

In May, Microsoft released version 1.5 of the Kinect for Windows runtime and SDK, and made Kinect for Windows hardware available in four more countries. The offering is intended to take the Kinect sensor technology beyond entertainment and use it for things like healthcare.