Archives For privacy

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Big Brother Mickey Mouse to monitor behavior via Disneys MyMagic+ RFID wristbands.

The Computerworld article by Darlene Storm (link above) is worthwhile reading. The article profiles the Spring 2013 introduction of RFID bracelets for visitors to Disney’s theme parks, under their “MagicBand” branding. I have never visited Disney, but have read they also fingerprint visitors, so are not averse to using biometrics to identify their patrons. In a sense, using ID bracelets to track your activity, enable purchasing, provide hotel room access, shuttle you through lines, and build up valuable preference marketing databases is less intrusive than biometrics. There are a number of services tied into these identifying bracelets, including social friending, and of course the consumer’s information is stored in the back end, not the bracelet. So this SoLoMo experience qualifies for the 2013 Hotel California scenario I outlined in a post late last year. It is equally interesting to read the reader reactions in the comments on other blog posts on this topic.  The most popular comments in terms of likes are skewed to privacy concerns and negative reactions to Disney’s marketing machine. Of course, one cannot ascribe any statistical validity to those who feel so strongly about issues as to comment on blog posts since those who see nothing wrong with it may not feel a need to post.

For full disclosure, I was instrumental in introducing a people tracking solution using a bracelet/watch like device for LoJack SafetyNet. However, this tracking is only done if a person with a pre-diagnosed risk of wandering due to something like Autism or Alzheimers is lost. It’s a great solution that has provided peace of mind to caregivers, helped rescue many people and helped optimize public safety resources.  If you have a loved one in that situation, I highly recommend you visit their site.

I think Disney’s bracelets must use a combination of NFC for purchases and ticketing authentication, possibly pairing low energy bluetooth or other rfid with nearby sensors for tracking throughout the park.  I assume Cinderella will have an earpiece telling her who you are and if its your birthday, etc., but am unsure if a human is needed on the other end to communicate that info or if it will be computer generated speech from a database. I am wondering how they minimize the lag time between identifying a visitor either approaching a character like Cinderella or shaking the character’s hand to informing her about the patron so it all seems natural and “magical”. Using a method like Google Glass combined with facial recognition would not work in this case because it would detract from the dramatic experience of seeing your favorite personalities in character. It’s one thing seeing Sergey Brin wearing Glass, but it would be another to see Cinderella wearing it – at least for now. I guess Pluto could have the glasses within the costume head, but security details might be a more appropriate use.

While this wireless identification bracelet system is being introduced in a controlled park environment, the obvious next question becomes, “To what extend will something like this be rolled out using your handset / watch / glasses / other wearable device to your local mall or Rodeo Drive / 5th Avenue type shopping area in the future?”  What about using it in ballparks, football stadiums and concerts? These venues can follow Disney’s lead by

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Minority Report Minority Report (Photo credit: Henry.)

This is the fourth and final post on how the Hotel California Scenario for future social, local and mobile media, apps, platforms, devices, and solutions (SoLoMo) is being created. In the Hotel California scenario, the User is the Interface, The World is the Computer, and the Situation is the Network. This post’s short list of companies exemplifies the offerings that will transform our interactivity with the world around and disrupt just about every vertical market in the process.

When I started this four part blog series last year, I referred to the user’s point of view when contending that 2013 will be a pivotal year for a new degree of Social, Mobile, and Local (SoLoMo) solutions to be embedded in our daily personal and professional lives. Others have called this future transformation by a number of titles:

  • M2M – Machine to Machine
  • M2M2M – Machine to Machine to Man
  • The Internet of Things
  • Smart Services
  • The Contextual Web
  • The Sentient World
  • The Ambient Web

Referring to the Hotel California use case helps to avoid getting caught up in splitting semantic and technical hairs. Whatever moniker you prefer, 2013 will be the year businesses in just about every vertical market begin to be disrupted by a new form of SoLoMo, changing the way we do a lot in our daily lives.

SoLoMo Practical Use Case Examples

How will it all work? New sensors and devices in the world around you are about to identify entities, record events, send the corresponding data through any number of wireless networks (depending on the situation) to an application that will either generate another event or produce meaningful information sent to user(s) based on pre-learned and/or pre-set preferences.  Here are some examples:

  • Your favorite ladies apparel store app recognizes you approaching via a number of possible methods and sends your smartphone a route through the store that you could follow to see this year’s new spring fabrics and patterns matching your online social browsing, likes and wants.  Expect coupons, credits and gamification to intensify and influence your shopping experience.
  • Your glucose levels are monitored in near real time by a device adhered onto your stomach and results sent to your smartphone and then your doctor.
  • Your client is unexpectedly arriving in town with nothing to do tonight and an app on your smartphone pulls up a certain seafood restaurant for reservation and ticket availability for the ballgame, given his preferences.
  • A parking app knows the class you go to every Monday night and routes you to an open parking spot via mobile as you near your destination.
  • The thermostat in your house rises to a comfortable 70 degrees from an energy saving 55 when your car gets within 2 miles of home.
  • A smart container might message that the last gallon of milk is about to expire or be depleted, and that information could either update your shopping list or be sent directly to your grocer for fulfillment based on a pre-set contract.  Smart containers might be your fridge or a product itself.
  • Your insurer messages you that your bathroom scale, or the fitness monitor in your shoe or bike verifies that you qualify for a health insurance discount.
  • An airplane mechanic uses Google Glasses to pull up a schematic of the engine he is working on with an app that recognizes the image, and augmented reality allows him to find parts in house, order needed parts, view critical path for estimated repair time, calculate and send a time and materials proposal/bill, and show him a short video of the repair process.

We are now moving from the experimental stage to the commercialization stage of these and many other examples. The reader should not think of these as just consumer apps either. In each case, there are implications to the way product / service providers, governments and other organizations operate and/or market. There will be a wave of pure play B2B opportunities as well. As incredible as it sounds today, the real growth in hardware and related services will not be focused solely on Smartphones and Tablets, as there will be billions of new “devices” in the environment that will need to be designed, built, sold, connected/paired and managed. By way of example, I have listed a few companies that will enable some of the changes in my series of posts below. Think about what they are doing, how they plan to do it, and imagine how the integrated elements will create a new future.

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English: The monk Samten who came to Samye Lin... English: The Tibetan monk Samten who came to Samye Ling with Sherab Palden Beru around 1967. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This blog post is the third of a four-part series on the Hotel California Scenario for future social, local and mobile media, apps, platforms, and solutions (SOLOMO). In the first post, I likened lyrics from The Eagles Hotel California to a future SOLOMO scenario where the User is the Interface, The World is the Computer, and the Situation is the Network. The second post suggested that it will be increasingly possible to do an “end-around” your smartphone passcode lock to access the sophisticated, powerful and user-friendly data mining that play a central role in the highly personalized experience we are coming to expect. This third post explores legalities and practicalities of privacy rights, emerging use cases, and possible outcomes. I am not an attorney, nor consider myself an expert on digital privacy, but I can read the tea leaves on where we are headed.

Can Anyone Keep Up with Privacy TOS?

The companies creating what I am calling the Hotel California future want to provide you with offerings that you will pay for because they improve lives and business performance. There will be other less obvious costs as well, highlighted ahead.

New SOLOMO product introduction is rampant and adoption is rapid. Generally, this indicates that no one wants to be labeled a Luddite, and expectations are high that new technology delivers advantages. In this type of insatiable market setting, who has time to read every line of a Terms of Service (TOS) document, or to recheck boxes every time privacy rules change?

In the last post, I covered how data mining will be done regardless of passwords and passcodes. NetFlix just succeeded in changing a law to allow sharing of your viewing history on social media. This means, figuratively for now, that your television can watch and report on you, and most people do not even own connected TV’s yet.  There appears to be some sort of after the fact opt-in clause that is unclear to me, however, it must be renewed every 2 years.  Is the renewal of your privacy rights on everything from robocalls to social media platforms to television to perhaps offline shopping eavesdropping really going to be programmed into everyone’s to do lists?

Moreover, if you download an app that you only use once and then shelve with the other 100 apps, don’t be surprised if the TOS you agreed to when downloading the app allows continued data mining and/or rights to your data.  Repeatedly forgoing these rights, whether through the TOS or expiration of opt-ins, is a cost of your new free service or inexpensive app.

The free and freemium service platforms and apps that are so helpful to us can also require approving lengthy CYA terms of service so protective that you’d need a team of lawyers to distinguish the egregious from the simply liberal. Of course, a quick policy change can turn what is the simply liberal today into the egregious tomorrow.  At some point, regressive analytics turned into predictive analytics and that will soon give way to persuasive analytics – how do we get you to buy a product you would not ordinarily try, or go somewhere you would not ordinarily go?  This has been a core goal of any marketing for decades, but the manners in which it will be done are changing rapidly. For example, which friends can we enlist, knowingly or otherwise, to persuade you using new forms of digital multi-level marketing? Does anyone really think that last month’s Instagram policy over-reach on their rights to market using your photos will never be repeated by another friendly startup with an innocuous cartoon logo? Changing policies that affect how others view you are another cost of using free platforms.

Today’s Evolving Models of SOLOMO Data Capture

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Members of the San Francisco Gold Rush at 49er...

Members of the San Francisco Gold Rush at 49ers training camp at the team’s headquarters and practice facility in Santa Clara, California. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This blog post is the second of a four part post on The Hotel California Scenario for social, local and mobile media / solutions (SOLOMO). In my last post, I likened lyrics from The Eagles Hotel California to a future SOLOMO scenario where the User is the Interface, The World is the Computer, and the Situation is the Network.  The future depicted is one of personal empowerment unlike anything that has ever existed, and should be celebrated. 

There is enormous momentum driving startups and established companies alike to have a social strategy and go “mobile first”. The statistics on social usage are undeniable, and mobility is evolving and disrupting worldwide.  Read any tech blog or media resource and you will be deluged with a never-ending stream of articles on the benefits of mobility, brought to you by the newest network, user-friendly platform, device or app. I first envisioned and strategized over some of this evolution in the early 1990’s with my IT colleagues.  We used to call this “Any 5” meaning anyone getting anything, anywhere, anytime, in any form.  Now that mobile’s time has finally arrived, it occurred to me that industry practitioners and users alike should take a step back to also consider possible corollary costs that the always on, on demand, in your pocket, highly personalized, presence-based world of social/mobile might bring us.   

The Theatre of Security

This past weekend, a security expert being interviewed on major media explained that there is something known as “The Theatre of Security”. His example was that of a random number of people who are singled out for pat downs on the trains. He explained that this form of “security” really did not make anyone any safer, but it provided commuters with the illusion that they were safer, hence the theatre.

In terms of your privacy, and potentially your future security, the passcode on your smartphone will provide you with similar theatre.  Sure, it is helpful to know that if your smartphone is fleeced in such a way that the thief cannot unlock it, today’s run of the mill robber will not have access to your data. Mobile devices are becoming so central to our lives, that people prefer to lose just about anything except for their smartphone.  However, as my previous blog post depicted using the Hotel California example, your face will soon biometrically unlock your data, and the world, including cat burglars, will be programmed to receive.  So if you shudder at the thought of having your cat burgled, or you take comfort in having a passcode on your smartphone, read on.

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