The one sure thing about the Xbox One at this point is that any news about the system is fluid right up till launch day. Following several key policy reversals by Microsoft, they’ve switched things up with Kinect now. When the system was first announced in May, Kinect was supposed to be always on and plugged in at all times in order for the system to function. That officially changed when Microsoft announced that Kinect doesn’t even need to be plugged in at all. Mark Whitten, chief architect behind the Xbox One, confirmed it on IGN.
“You have the ability to completely turn the sensor off in your settings,” Whitten said. “When in this mode, the sensor is not collecting any information. Any functionality that relies on voice, video, gesture or more won’t work. We still support using it for IR blasting in this mode. You can turn the sensor back on at any time through settings, and if you enter into a required Kinect experience (like Kinect Sports Rivals for instance), you’ll get a message asking if you want to turn the sensor back on in order to continue.” Kinect will still be a mandatory and sold with every system, but there’s no reason to believe that couldn’t change at some point as well.