back to article Yet another reason to skip commercials: Microsoft ad TURNS ON your Xbox One

Xbox One users are complaining that Microsoft's newest ad for the console is randomly activating their systems. The advertisement in question features television star Aaron Paul navigating the console via voice commands. The Breaking Bad star speaks praise of the console while enjoying a game of Titanfall and a bit of …


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  1. TheSkunkMonk

    Wait a minute, if you pay for an xbox one does it force adverts on you as well as spy?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Saving to pay for a series of radio and TV commercials

      All it says is..

      "XBox, Post to Twitter, I wish I had bought a PS4 instead, it's a better system with better exclusives"

      "Xbox, Post to Facebook, I am fed up living a lie, I am having a coming out party, all invited"

      Xbox , Format Hard Drive"

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Saving to pay for a series of radio and TV commercials

        Oh and of course..

        "Xbox buy 14 copies of kinect x-factor dance off"

    2. Rafael L.

      It seems you didn't get it. When a commercial featuring somebody saying "Xbox on" or something else plays on TV and Xbox "hears" it, it follows the voice command.

  2. Gannettt

    These corporations won't be happy...

    ...until they have electrodes implanted in your brain at birth so you can control their tech. Are you a Microsoft of Sony baby?

    1. Epobirs

      Re: These corporations won't be happy...

      Neither. A TCP baby. See 'The President's Analyst' from 1967. Way ahead of the curve.

  3. Lee D Silver badge

    Like the old classic:

    "Voice recognition, eh? Whatever you do, don't say "Delete all files", yes?"

    Don't get the point of, nor the need for, voice recognition. Especially not when it has to listen 24 hours a day just for that 2 second gap when you want it to turn on, and not all the other times you might say something similar.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      I disagree

      There are lots of devices, that if I were a competent programmer, I'd have voice activated. TV, lights, radio, oven, garage door, etc. I'm lazy. I do know that the trigger phrase would not be as common as ecks bocks won.

      1. R 11

        Re: I disagree

        They could take lessons from Google. My Moto X responds to voice commands. It also recognizes if I'm giving them and ignores them if it's my wife speaking.

        1. Simon Harris

          Re: I disagree @r 11

          Ignoring voice commands from the wife?

          That's a proper man's phone!

        2. Fatman

          Re: I disagree

          It also recognizes if I'm giving them and ignores them if it's my wife speaking.

          Very smart device.

      2. BlartVersenwaldIII

        Re: I disagree

        Just make sure it's not a programmer that thinks of everything:

        1. Don Jefe

          Re: I disagree

          I never got the appeal of machines commanded by voice. If you've got to speak to it why don't you just tell another person what you want done.

          People are way easier to program than voice recognition systems. People also have a far more robust interpretative engine and contextual analysis capabilities. Assuming a voice system could get through my outrageous accent (none so far have succeeded), a computer might not realize my order to activate the siege pumps and deploy the Dome of Silence is bourbon fueled bluster, not an actual order. My wife, house staff and minions office staff have learned to tell the difference and it's simply too risky to hope a computer can do the same.

          Maybe one day it'll be like Star Trek and voice command will 'just work', but even after they get AI sorted, they've still got to figure out how to cause pain and remorse in the AI. Without pain and fear of more pain the programming will be far less effective and reliable so right now Humans are far superior to voice controlled tech.

          1. Law

            Re: I disagree

            "I never got the appeal of machines commanded by voice. If you've got to speak to it why don't you just tell another person what you want done."

            Me: "Wife - Xbox on!"

            Wife: "Husband - bugger off!"

            Me: "Wife - open Titanfall, and snap the football"

            *wife throws xbox at husband*

            Not sure you've got a solid plan there. These things are always solutions looking for a problem - until you get used to them, then it's just an expected feature.

    2. Epobirs

      When did you last misplace your vocal cords?

      The value of voice commands is you're unlikely to lose the remote or deal with multiple remotes. For most people, their voice is always available and doesn't need new batteries at inconvenient moments.

      1. David 132 Silver badge

        Re: When did you last misplace your vocal cords?

        For most people, their voice is always available and doesn't need new batteries at inconvenient moments.

        I'm Marcel Marceau and I find this post discriminatory and offensive.

        1. SVV

          Re: When did you last misplace your vocal cords?

          I'd be careful about practising your routines in the same room as your Kinect then, as you mght find that you've just purchased £15000 worth of tedious first person shooters

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: When did you last misplace your vocal cords?

        We will perfect brain pattern recognition (possibly simpler) before we perfect voice recognition it seems.

        On a technical stand point... the voice varies a lot for each command, however our brain pattern might be more similar, even when we have a cough from a cold (but not when we have a fever! :O ).

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Android is just as bad

      The kitkat device on my desk lights up 2 or 3 times a day in our busy open-plan office, presumably because it thought it heard someone say "OK, Google".

      1. Adrian 4

        Re: Android is just as bad

        This isn't going to end well.

        We have web pages that you have to snake around to avoid the popups jumping up over the text you need to read. We have Windows 8 that constantly jumps off the desktop screen (and application you're using) because of some hotspot inadvertantly touched.

        Soon we'll have to avoid a growing list of key words that might be misconstrued by lurking devices if they're heard together. Laughably, this will REDUCE the number of times we use the words Google, Xbox, and other hard-won brand names.

        These ideas sound great taken on their own. When everyone plays, they're awful. For another demonstration, look at the destruction wreaked on the useful Oyster cards in London by having bank cards that trigger the same readers.

    4. This post has been deleted by its author

    5. Keith 21

      @Lee D and Don Jefe

      Don't get the need for voice recognition?

      Cool, then don't use it.

      Simple :)

      Me? I'm writing this entire post, and submitting it (having read the article and comments), all via voice control / voice recognition. Did I NEED to? No. Then again, I don't NEED to read or reply either. That I did, is made easier using voice control / voice recognition. Easier, more convenient, and as you can wee with this uncorrected post, it seems to pretty much work.

      1. dan1980

        Re: @Lee D and Don Jefe

        @Keith 21

        The downside of speech recognition is that it's harder to fool the boss/wife that you're actually doing work rather than posting on The Reg.

        Seriously though, there is a difference between activating voice-recognition for a specific task and a pervasive 'listening' style recognition, which is what the X-Box and some other devices use. This style of voice-recognition is more problematic because by its very nature it needs to be able to pickup voices from a wide range and so is more susceptible to 'interference'

        1. Danny 14

          Re: @Lee D and Don Jefe

          our mondeo has voice control and it works quite well. You press a button on the stalk and it activates the "listener". Top level controls such as "climate", "radio", "cd", "bluetooth", "phone", "playlist" etc then sub commands. It doesnt have false positives very often, even the "phone" bit.

          I think ive used it half a dozen times in the years ive had the car. It is easier to twiddle the air con temp control or press the down arrow on the wheel.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Tinfoil hat time

    OK, I know this sounds nuts, but couldn't the NSA/CIA use this as a brilliantly obtuse way to spy on folks here in the US? Don't the XBone's phone home when they start up and connect to XBoxLive? And say the NSA already has served a warrant (with gag order) to MS to log all traffic from certain consoles, maybe even send covert commands to the consoles to, oh, I don't know, discretely turn on the mic and/or camera. So all they need is a way to make sure the Xbones are on when they want them to be. And then MS comes out with an ad campaign where the actor's voice is actually tuning on people's XBones.

    Yeah, that's nuts. They'd never do that. That's way to clever...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Tinfoil hat time

      I think they did it on purpose, but not for the purpose that you state above.

      It'd be like naming your dog 'stay' or 'sit'.

      1. Captain DaFt

        Re: Tinfoil hat time

        "It'd be like naming your dog 'stay' or 'sit'."

        True. I once named a dog 'Goaway'. Poor thing had a breakdown when I tried to call it. :(

        1. Danny 14

          Re: Tinfoil hat time

          we had a dog named "dog" once so having an xbox respond to "xbox" isnt too far fetched.

    2. Adrian 4

      Re: Tinfoil hat time

      The Xbox was already on. How do you think it noticed the words 'xbox on' ? What else was it doing with the other words it heard ? 'Xbox on' just means 'turn on the lights and grab the TV'.

  5. Epobirs

    Something for the next firmware update

    IIRC, the Kinect mic can pick up stuff that is outside normal human range. I'd suggest they need a 'magic' tone, to be inserted at the beginning of an ad like this, that tells the Kinect to not process possible voice commands for, say, 30 seconds. Then that tone could be used for new forms of abuse, such as ads that don't let you switch away to a game.

    Build a more foolproof device and they'll soon produce better fools.

    1. Robin Weston

      Re: Something for the next firmware update

      Very nearly what I came here to post, but I'd got a more user friendly solution of an ultrasound "tune" that could be broadcast at some point during the faux command. Inaudible to the human ear, but the machine takes it as a cartoon angel on its shoulder shaking it's head to ignore that one.

      Of course this in turn leads to people identifying the sound and using it for nefarious purposes...

      1. Richard 12 Silver badge

        Re: Something for the next firmware update

        Won't work, because ultrasound isn't broadcastable and even if it were, TV speakers can't make it.

        TV broadcasting standards limit the range of colours and sound frequencies to a rather small range, considerably smaller than a young human can see and hear.

        They could do a piercing whistle, except they'd then be thrown off the networks for breaching other rules.

        There's a reason why the signals to indicate advert insertion times used to be visual - ever notice black and white flashing dots before an ad break?

    2. stanimir

      Re: Something for the next firmware update

      Kinect mic can pick up stuff that is outside normal human range.

      That's below 16Hz and above 20KHz (mybe 22K for some people). Your standard TV set won't be able to play them. Also could make dogs annoyed as they actually hear ultra sound and that's one of the ways to have the dogs perform at the circus.

      Then you may have young kids hear the ultra sound and have very unpleasant effect even causing headache (still clearly remember the high pitch 15625Hz of horizontal flyback transformer)

      Using infrasound (sub 20Hz) is quite as dangerous. "Low frequency sound can cause people to have unusual experiences even though they cannot consciously detect infrasound"[0]

      Basically putting sound waves outside the hearing spectrum (and being able to reproduce them in the physical world) can result in class lawsuits.


      1. Danny 14

        Re: Something for the next firmware update

        infrasound is only an issue at high power. Obviously if a powerful sound wave at 5HZ is projected to you then obviously the air is going to be pushed and pulled out of you. "brown notes" are a myth though.

        At the power TV speakers are it would make no difference (assuming they could play so low which they cant). Even domestic subs wouldnt do much either. Mythbusters used some pretty impressive kit when they tested it (as did NASA)

        1. stanimir

          Re: Something for the next firmware update ( @Danny 14)

          I mentioned no standard speakers can deliver infra sounds (even subs). Infra sound would require huge speakers as well to be able to play so low frequency - assuming plugged into some external 5+1 the extra power might be good enough.

          I recall reading like 25 years ago about the effects of infra sound and there is info (like the linked one) with experiments on real people. Of course it could be just a myth but that one is hard to (dis)proof as it may not effect everyone.

  6. Paul Hovnanian Silver badge

    Xbox sucks

    Hey! Its vacuuming the floor!

  7. Kev99 Silver badge

    Why do the fools leave the Xbox turned on? Or doesn't it have that marvelous invention made famous by the Assyrians - an On-Off switch?

    1. Marcelo Rodrigues

      "Why do the fools leave the Xbox turned on? Or doesn't it have that marvelous invention made famous by the Assyrians - an On-Off switch?"

      I turn of my TV with the remote - but the pretty red LED stays on. It is in "standby", not "off". I could get up, and turn it REALLY off - with the mechanical button on its front.

      But I'm lazy, and this way I don't have to remember to turn it on before use. Truth be told, my TV doesn't have mics or cameras - so it is not a concern.

      Most people do the same with the Xbox - don't they?

    2. James O'Shea

      "Why do the fools leave the Xbox turned on? Or doesn't it have that marvelous invention made famous by the Assyrians - an On-Off switch?"

      Microsoft hid it. You have to know that the on/off switch is the Xbox logo on the front of the box.

    3. RAMChYLD

      On-Off switch

      Maybe it's because the typical North American wall socket, for some reason, lacks an on-off switch?

      1. Danny 14

        Re: On-Off switch

        simple solution in our house, double wall socket. One has a 4 way with TV, amp, xbmc and xbox. Other socket has 4 way with router and cable modem (and a free standing light). Leave one switched on (router and modem), other gets switched off when not in use. If you were that lazy you could get one of those remote control switches (that would consumer power....)

  8. Down not across

    Somewhat deceitful if not downright false advertising

    Advert is all about voice commands and ends with "XBoxOne- Now £349" ...which would be the kinectless version ...and you need Kinect for voice commands.

    No, I didn't pay enough attention to the advert to notice if there was small print to point out that fact.

    1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

      Re: Somewhat deceitful if not downright false advertising

      "Advert is all about voice commands and ends with "XBoxOne- Now £349" ...which would be the kinectless version ...and you need Kinect for voice commands."

      I blame marketing. If you want to gauge audience participation, what better way than to make sure your analytics collector is enabled and capable of sending audio/video at the start of an ad. Or finding out which channels Xbone owners prefer. As MS put it when they flogged Atlas to Facepalm-

      "Perhaps more important than anything, five-plus years ago we did not have the stable of mature owned & operated media/screen assets with global reach that we now have, including: Xbox/Kinect, Skype, Bing, Windows Phone, a new and improved MSN that delivers premium ad experiences, and last but certainly not least, Windows 8 applications.

      Our vision has evolved. We want to stay laser focused on building devices and services that we believe will represent the advertising platforms of the future."

  9. Fat Bob

    I still can't see the advert without hearing Aaron Paul saying, "xbox on, bitch".

  10. This post has been deleted by its author

  11. Andrew Jones 2

    The one story I read about was someone who was playing Watch Dogs and the advert played - presumably on another TV - it's not mentioned, but the XBox of course ignored the first command, because it was already on - it however dutifully followed the second command.... and went to Titanfall.

    I'd like to know how many people left the room while the commercials were on, and came back to find their XBox on, (possibly in the Titanfall game), and the TV snapped? There are probably a lot of people who live on their own who would find that just a little bit scary - if they didn't know about the existence of the advert.

    What I take away from the advert though..... is that I was unaware that it was possible to do this, and I now wonder why we don't hear stories about (for example) little brothers who wait until big brother is in a pretty crucial part of a game - and then shout commands at the XBox...... because if they had been around when I was a kid - I'd totally have done that....

    But then.... I'm the evil git with the TV-b-Gone in my pocket, and it's A LOT of fun......

  12. Charles Manning

    Only command you'll ever need

    "Xbox, list yourself on ebay."

  13. DryBones


    This is HILARIOUS! (/Sparta)

    Seriously, I understand there's a certain amount of trolling going on with switched gamer handles... :)

  14. FlatSpot
    Thumb Up


    I can only understand about half of what the guy is mumbling in the advert

  15. asdf

    affects new xbones too?

    If it doesn't affect the new xbones then its one more reason why it was smart to wait until Microsoft came to their senses and quit making gamers pay $100+ extra for device that exists so you can flail around like a retard.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Feeling evil this evening Im going to strap some speaks to my car trailer and drive round playing the recording Xbox One on, Web Browser, find Por......

  17. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

    Does everyone...

    ...always use default settings or is it not possible to change the attention sound to something other than "xbox"?

    Then again,IIRC my Samsung Galaxy 2 only does voice after you say "hello galaxy", which I personally feels sounds a bit childish so have never bothered with the voice control. My Garmin SatNav lets me type in a word or phrase as the attention getter. My car has a nice simple button on the steering wheel as the attention getter and since the car controls the phone via bluetooth to make and receive calls, it solves my only need for voice control of the phone with the childish "hello galaxy" crap.

  18. king of foo


    I certainly like the idea of being able to watch TV on screen at the same time as playing a game. An old LCD I used to have back in the early 2000s had that functionality baked in. You could select 1 input as the primary display then select any secondary input to appear in a second smaller display at the top right. I was saddened when I had to replace it and none of the new fangled TV's had that feature any more.

    But I don't see how exactly this would work on an Xbox - given that my "TV" comes via a separate HDMI cable from a virgin set top box...

    1. king of foo

      Re: magic

      Duh... unless you feed your set top box THROUGH your Xbox...

      Sorry,I've just this minute had my morning coffee...

      If the other features were banishable I might be tempted by this. I like it a lot. Especially if it means my TV would therefore become voice activated as well.

      BUT I really don't like the idea that it could record audio/video of the family without our knowledge.

    2. Martin

      You're talking about picture in picture?

      So you can watch a TV show in a smaller picture while you're playing a game in the main screen?

      Blimey, if the game is so easy that you can watch TV at the same time, then what's the point of it?

      Come to that, if the TV program is so uninteresting that you want to play a game while watching it, why bother to have it on?

      1. king of foo

        Re: You're talking about picture in picture?

        Martin, were you the genius behind tifkam? I will bow down to your greater wisdom and repent for my evil multi tasking ways.

      2. Hans 1

        Re: You're talking about picture in picture?

        to have some fun during the commercials or when you wanna watch a game of football and like me do not care about all the shit the commentators fork out before the game starts ... I see many use cases ...

  19. Truth4u


    way to troll your own customers. good work.

    games consoles are not really relevant anymore. its an expensive kids toy and for sad adults who could better spend their time taking a walk instead.

    1. Hans 1

      Re: LOL

      These consoles, ps4, xbox 360 & one, are for idiots. You pay premium for crippled hardware, expensive parts, internet play ...

      Get a gaming PC for the same dosh that is upgradable and enjoy free online game play, a no-brainer ? Not in an idiocracy ...

      1. Eradicate all BB entrants

        Re: LOL

        Had to wait until the end of the thread but here they are, ladies and gentleman I proudly present people who have no idea of what gaming is at all. And guys, when it comes to home video gaming the console really did get there first with items such as the Grandstand.

        I have a gaming pc, I also have consoles, including the Xbox One (and no, he doesn't, only I can turn my xbox on ..... but then it auto signs in the girlfriend), I carry out some light gaming on my phone and sometimes I am happy with a few games of solitaire.

        I quite like the kinect, it is handy for when I get in from work, throw my bag down, mutter to myself about the amount of Virgin flyers stuck in the front door, realise I need to iron a shirt for the day after before I forget. During all of this I can have Modern Family ready to play on Netflix without once looking for the controller.

        As for the walk, I will happily go for that walk if you survive the free Insanity workout on that little mentioned free app, Xbox Fitness or as I call it, Xbox de Torquemada.

  20. Steven Davison

    I think the overriding influence on this is Star Trek. All of the series post TNG have the computer listening all the time, and responding to commands as required. (yes, it even queries when some of the characters talk to themselves)

    People love tech out of Sci-Fi... it's just not always that practical! (LCARS interface [google it!] - buttons and controls with little details on what each control does!)

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