Microsoft has gotten a patent from the US Patent and Trade Office for technology that can censor inappropriate language in audio streams in realtime.
The company originally applied for the patent back in 2004, as Ars Technica reports
, and could use the tech to block profanity in its online environments, like Xbox Live.
Xbox Live currently allows users to report offensive behavior on the service, and Microsoft is able to suspend or ban users based on reporting by other users. But anecdotal evidence from game fans and forum discussions around the web has periodically suggested the Live environment, like many online spaces where anonymity is a factor, still can suffer from episodes of hostility or harassment incidents.
Microsoft has in recent months been making a clear push to evolve the console's image into a more kid and family-friendly experience, adding Wii-like avatars, planning a game show channel, and positioning its lowest-end $199 Arcade SKU as an option for the casual consumer.
Ars Technica says the patented tech can analyze audio streams in real-time to recognize objectionable words based on phenomes, and overwrite them bleeps, noise or silence.
It's unclear yet how Microsoft plans to implement the technology, which could also have clear applications for TV or radio networks looking to avoid FCC fines, or whether it will be a mandatory or optional update to existing services for users.
Gamasutra has contacted Microsoft for comment and will update as we receive it.