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The failed Xbox Kinect gets new life as security

The Xbox One's Kinect peripheral may be dead and gone as far as gamers are concerned. But it appears the device is still very much alive, and is being used in a way that may surprise you.

A video game historian named Jason Scott happened upon several Kinects while passing through New Jersey's Newark Liberty International Airport, according to IGN. And luckily, Scott managed to snap some photos of the Kinects to share with Twitter, showing the devices mounted high above a security checkpoint area. The Kinects look as though they're being used to monitor those passing through the checkpoint, pointed straight down in order to see what goes on below. It's unclear as this time, though, what kind of information the devices are gathering.

We shouldn't be completely surprised that the Kinect is being used for security, however.

When the Xbox One version of the peripheral was announced back in 2013, law enforcement immediately saw the potential for its use in surveillance. According to FedScoop, some officials even admitted that agencies were already "leveraging the Kinect 3-D motion-sensing, facial and voice recognition technologies that power the Xbox One for security purposes." And Greg Myers, VP of Microsoft Federal at the time, confirmed that various U.S. agencies were "using it to look for threats," but couldn't elaborate further.

The Kinect is also not the first Microsoft gaming device to be used as a tool for homeland security. Back in 2017, the Navy started using Xbox 360 controllers to control their submarine periscopes, saving a substantial amount of money in the process. The controllers, which are relatively cheap today, replaced control panels that cost the Navy approximately $38,000. It's likely airports are also cutting costs by using Kinects over some other type of device.

Microsoft's Kinect program hasn't totally vanished, by the way. The company now has something called the Azure Kinect DK – a shrunken-down version of the Kinect intended for Azure development — and it's entirely possible that the Kinect DK will someday be what you see at airports across the country.

Until then, expect to have the occasional Xbox One Kinect sighting every now and again. They're few and far between, but they're still out there.