More Black and White Than You Think

I felt that so far, the most fascinating thing that I’ve learned in IST has been the Internet of Things. The IoT is something which I use everyday of my life and, until this class, was something which I absolutely took for granted. This article details the future of the IoT, particularly the economic aspect of its growth. The company featured in the article is Zebra, a company which specializes in live data updates within the IoT. Zebra produces technology that is, in essence, what we use in UPS and Amazon package tracking. The growth of this industry is what I was particularly impressed by. According to the article, the industry should hit $1.4 trillion by 2021, which is an absurd amount of money. Zebra’s initiative of developing live data updates within the IoT will, in my estimation, help iron out a lot of the kinks within the industry.

Why should you care about this? Because 5 years from now, your life itself will be so streamlined you cannot even imagine. Zebra Technologies company states that “Zebra makes businesses as smart and connected as the world we live in.” (zebra.com), with the goal being to make data capture as accurate and continuous as possible. Zebra aims to increase business efficiency of many enterprises by allowing unprecedented visibility into how the company works, which then allows improvements and adjustments to be made resulting in further efficiency. Zebra is much to do this $1.4 trillion projection as it is helping push the boundaries which currently exist in the IoT field. IST and the way in which technologies interact with one another may not be black and white but companies like Zebra paving the way for new levels of efficiency is.

 

http://fortune.com/2017/09/27/zebra-technologies-iot-baidu/

Is Google Glass Dead or Reborn?

The Google Glass was created in order to create an augmented reality, which combines the real world with augmentation. Augmented reality can make static objects interactive using a computer-generated image. This reality enriches a user’s perception of reality.

The Google Glass is an optical head-mounted display that looks exactly like eyeglasses. This type of augmented reality eyewear was developed by X and used to portray information just as a smartphone would. However, these glasses are special because it requires no hands. These glasses were used to watch TV, as well as a GPS while driving. The features of the Google glass include a touchpad, allowing the user to slide backwards and upwards through different applications, a camera, allowing the user to take pictures and videos, and a display that allows the user to see clear.

However, the Google Glass did not perform as planned and received many criticisms. One big concern was the privacy reasons. Users are wearing a camera on their face, which can take videos and pictures at all times. This can lead to people getting video tapped who don’t want to be, users videotaping a movie at the cinema, users videotaping at the casino, etc. The Google Glass also did not perform well due to the fact the headset didn’t have a clear function. The two main functions were to take pictures and gather information, which makes it obvious that “obtaining the Google Glass offered no clear benefit to the consumers whatsoever” (Doyle).

Alphabet announced the Google Glass Enterprise Edition will come out in 2017 with better functions. While one big reason the Google Glass did not perform well the first time was due to the glasses not having a clear function for the consumer. The Google Glass Enterprise Edition is not targeted to consumers but rather targeted to companies. “According to a Google Glass website Alphabet has published, a host of prominent companies are using the technology, including General Electric and DHL” (Fortune). This poses a question, will the Google Glass be a big improvement than the original or will it be another failure?

http://www.business2community.com/tech-gadgets/5-reasons-google-glass-miserable-failure-01462398#8oCFciqyM378ER4G.97

http://fortune.com/2017/07/18/alphabet-google-glass-comeback/

Should Social Media Companies be More Restrictive to Children?

Children’s Commissioner Anne Longfield claims that companies like Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat are not doing enough to educate children on social media terms and safety. She believes that “Children have absolutely no idea that they are giving away the right to privacy or the ownership of their data or the material they post online” (Shultes). She believes that social media companies need to educate and be more transparent about the information and accesses they request from children who may not understand. These companies offer long and detailed terms of conditions that are not read by children or not understood.

On the flip side, big social media companies argue that they do a lot to ensure the safety of young people on their platforms. For example, Facebook includes tools such as “Parents Portal,” “Privacy Basics” and “Safety Center.” Snapchat believes they make their terms and conditions as clear and understandable as possible.

Who do you think is right when it comes to children’s safety on social media platforms?

http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-41429866

Virtual Reality: Coming Soon to a Theater Near You (in actual reality)!

In the past decade, it is no secret that with the convenience of online movie services like Netflix, the movie theater industry has taken quite a hit thanks to more and more people staying at home.  In today’s world of disruptive innovation, the only way for theater companies to combat this loss of profits is to offer new, exciting experiences to draw the crowds back inside.  Their next big idea?  Virtual reality arcades.

VR Demo

A recent Dreamscape Immersive demo in Sweden

According to a recent New York Times article, movie theater giant AMC Entertainment is teaming up with VR start-up Dreamscape Immersive to bring this idea to life.  This fascinating technology, which relies on a variety of camera, sensors, and head-mounted displays (HMDs) stationed in an open area, “allows up to six people to explore a virtual-reality environment at once, seeing fully rendered avatars of one another,” and “participants can handle objects and — as avatars — even pass them between one another” (Barnes).  AMC’s CEO Adam Aron is very excited about this endeavor and the experiences it can provide, stating that “their vision is to change what V.R. has been — away from just a heightened level of video game and toward cinematic storytelling — and we think it’s what consumers have been waiting for” (Barnes).  Personally, I agree and think this would be a really fun application of this growing field of technology and would love to give it a try.  This new business partnership is said to allow for around six new Dreamscape locations to open in the U.S. within the next year and a half, and ticket prices are intended to start at $15 (Barnes).

Was this a good move by AMC and would you personally want to visit one of these attractions?  Leave a comment below.

 

Barnes, Brooks. “Coming Soon to AMC Theaters: Virtual Reality Experiences.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 26 Sept. 2017, https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/26/business/media/amc-theaters-virtual-reality.html

Image: https://pbs.twimg.com/media/C_iWj67XgAA2_7g.jpg

Robot caregivers are saving the elderly from lives of loneliness

An elderly resident holds a therapeutic robot named Paro at the Suisyoen retirement home, about 30 km (19 miles) south of the tsunami-crippled nuclear plant in Iwaki, Fukushima prefecture, July 28, 2011. For some elderly survivors of Japan’s march earthquake and tsunami, comfort comes in the form of a small white robotic seal named Paro. The residents of the nursing home came back from a nearly two-month-long evacuation since the nuclear crisis in Fukushima. Picture taken July 28, 2011. To match Reuters Life! ROBOT-SEAL/ REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon (JAPAN – Tags: SCI TECH SOCIETY ENERGY)

According to the U.S Census, slights over 5 percent of the 65+ population occupy nursing homes, congregate care, assisted living, and board-and-care homes and about 4.2 percent are in nursing homes at any given time. While 5% might not seem like a lot but there are approximately 78 million baby boomers. So approximately 5 percent, or 3.9 million people are expected to head for these facilities. Also with baby-boomers retiring later, all these people will most likely start needing assistance all at the same time.

Japan is aware of this, and that’s why they are one of the first nations to introduce support robots into their options for elderly care. In Japan the annual birth rate has been dropping and a quater of the population is 65+. Japan has deployed the Dinsow elder care robot into many of the homes of the elderly. This robots acts as sort of a persnal assistant. It helps its user remember to take their pills, tracks their health and automatically answers incoming calls from family and doctors. They also made a second version of this robot that is small enough to live on the night stand of bedridden patients.

For patients who need companion as well as a guardian as well, there is the MiRo robotic dog. Like the other robot, it does the typical pill regimen management, general companionship and appointment reminders but it also keeps an eye on the health of the patient. It tries talking to you and then based on the signals it gets front the paitent, it will contant a command control system which will braodcast on a home speaker asking you again if you are all right, and telling you to slap your wrist. That refers to a biometric sensing wristband that the user wears which tracks their vitals.”If you slap your wrist the process will stop but will be logged,” says the MiRo’s designer, Sebastian Conran. “If you don’t slap your wrist it will… go to a carer, who can see your heart rate and body temperature, and rewind your life using the cameras in the home to see what happened. So when the ambulance gets there, they’ll know what they’re working with.”

The States aren’t  too far behind because we are deploying the ElliQ which is a system similar to the Dinsow in December. Its a interactive robot with an integrated tablet. It will tracks its users pill regimen and connects them to family, friends and medical professionals  through video calls and social media. The system will utilize machine learning to figure out its users preferences and “quirks.” It can then make proactive activity recommendations based on what it know its user likes.

Would you trust the life of your parents or grandparents in the hands of a robot?

http://www.engadget.com/2017/08/29/robot-caregivers-are-saving-the-elderly-from-lives-of-loneliness/

The New Third Wheel: Internet Advertisers

In today’s world of ever-growing connectivity, social media has become an integral part of our lives.  Massive amounts of posts are written and liked by internet users every day, but the majority of people rarely ever think about how this data may be used behind their back.  One of the top uses of this information is for targeted internet advertising, and while some users are starting to expect this sort of behavior from sites like Google and Facebook, there is one that might not cross their minds: Tinder.

Tinder app

Tinder, along with other dating websites, naturally needs to collect a wide variety of information about you for their matching algorithms to function properly.  This data includes your interests, hobbies, and personality traits, all of which each of the 50 million Tinder users voluntarily provide without the fear (other than that of…well…rejection) of unwanted sources obtaining it.  But truth be told, this is not the case and it is worse than you think.  According to The Guardian reporter Judith Duportail’s study of her own Tinder data, she states “the dating app has 800 pages of information on me” including and not limited to “my Facebook “likes”, my photos from Instagram (even after I deleted the associated account), my education, the age-rank of men I was interested in, how many times I connected, when and where every online conversation with every single one of my matches happened” (Duportail).  She goes on further to show that “Tinder’s privacy policy clearly states your data may be used to deliver ‘targeted advertising’,” so there is no doubt about it that if you use Tinder, any of your information and interactions on the app can be collected and used by advertisers (Duportail).

With the unwanted dealing of your private information and the always prevalent threat of a cyber security breach, do you still feel comfortable using Tinder?  Leave a comment below.

 

Duportail, Judith. “I Asked Tinder for My Data. It Sent Me 800 Pages of My Deepest, Darkest Secrets.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 26 Sept. 2017, www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/sep/26/tinder-personal-data-dating-app-messages-hacked-sold

Image: http://i.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2016/11/21/11/3A9BEBE100000578-3956628-image-a-1_1479726284520.jpg

An Ethical Dilemma of Tracking on the Internet

In class on Tuesday, Professor Pursel mentioned advertising company’s tracking of internet user activity to present specific ads to certain consumers, and Facebook running into trouble in this regard. For most of us millennials, consumer targeting on the internet is something we’ve grown accustomed to; like seeing products we’ve searched popping up on other websites, and ads tailored to information our computer learns about us. This has become a norm that while a few concerns have been tentatively raised, there have not yet been concrete examples of moral issues with this type of advertising targeting.

For this reason, learning the details of Facebook’s predicament are even more concerning. Although product management director, Rob Leathern claimed not to “allow hate speech on Facebook,” over two thousand users were allowed to label “Jew hater” and even “How to burn Jews” as their field of study. With this information available on social networkers’ profiles, advertisers like Pro Publica are able to access and take advantage of it while literally profiling consumers to target. This means that they could create and present these users with ads that are supportive of their hateful beliefs.
Possibly more troublesome, Facebook finally confirmed Russian influence of the presidential campaign through the use of ads and “fake news” on the social network.

With technology advances and a growing shift to consumer profiling on social media, this trend is bringing up more and more concerning questions. Whose responsibility is it to manage these issues? The article blames Facebook, but should Facebook limit its users’ freedom of speech on its network? Should it be responsible for limiting advertising companies’ access to this type of information? Or should advertising companies be held accountable for ethically using the information they have access to? And of course, the question of the year, what are we going to do about Russia? While the growing shift to consumer profiling on social media in advertising is interesting and entertaining to learn about, problems like these are important to keep in mind.

 

Sloane., Garett. “Facebook Offered to Target Ads to ‘Jew Haters,’ Report Says.” Ad Age, 14 Sept. 2017, adage.com/article/digital/facebook-offered-target-ads-jew-haters-report/310468/.

Think the Echo Spot is Nice? Think again.

On September 28, 2017, Amazon announced their second generation of Echo products. Some are an upgrade of their previous products, such as the Echo 2, but Amazon also introduced new products. One of those is the Amazon Echo Spot. The basic premise of the Spot is that it serves as a ‘smart alarm clock’ that can sit in your bedroom. It comes with features such as Alexa, access to Spotify or Pandora, and many of the other features that come in a basic Amazon Echo, just in compact form. Some of those additional features? Voice recognition and a built-in camera.

The New Amazon Echo Spot Source:https://assets.pcmag.com/media/images/557521-amazon-echo-spot.jpg?thumb=y&width=740&height=417

Now don’t get me wrong, these are great features to have on an in-home smart device, especially the voice recognition. At any given instant, you can ask Alexa the simplest of questions, like what the weather will be for the day, in order to better equip you for life as you move throughout your morning. It can serve as a great device for your office desk space with the multitude of built-in features. The front facing camera can provide a great means of communication with people, no matter where you are in the house.

Here’s my problem though: this is what we have talked about as the redefinition of security in our lives. Many times I think of an alarm clock and I am putting in on my bedside table. This is where my concern grows for the Spot. It having voice recognition capability means that the device is constantly listening for its cues to perk up. This means that it is listening 24/7 and can if say it’s in the bedroom also can hear some potentially more intimate or private conversations. You know, things that are only for a select few people. The camera is the same way. While most likely it doesn’t and isn’t something that we should be concerned for, that camera could easily turn on when it wants. If (and this is entirely an if) it were to ever be hacked, all that data could be taken and the every minute of our lives at home could be recorded.

That right there for me is the redefinition of my privacy and security. A small tableside device is constantly listening to our conversations and always has a camera focused where ever it is placed, and for many a device like this may end up in a bedroom. I’m one that turned off the ‘okay, google’ feature on my phone when I realized it was constantly listening for me, so this makes me more uncomfortable. The internet of things may seem like a great idea, but if you’re anyway thinking the same way I do, some things need to stay out of the light and the new Amazon products are limiting the ability to do so.

 

Sources:

“Introducing Echo Spot – Black.” Introducing Echo Spot – Amazon Official Site – Stylish, Compact Echo with a Screen. Amazon, 28 Sept. 2017. Web.
Warren, Tom. “Amazon’s Echo Spot Is a Sneaky Way to Get a Camera into Your Bedroom.” The Verge. The Verge, 28 Sept. 2017. Web.

Welcome to the Smart Speaker Age

We currently live in a generation where smart technologies are running the world. For example, with smart tv’s you can stream any tv show/movie/sporting event from the click of a button. Smart light bulbs allow the consumer to control the lights of his/her home from a smartphone. The list of smart technology goes on and on. But now, the Smart Speaker is taking over. Specifically, Amazon’s “Alexa.” Amazon’s smart speaker technology allows customers to play music, tv shows, control their lights, etc. just from talking to the friendly, and obedient, Alexa. Today, a whole new line of smart speakers has been released by Amazon, promising deeper bass and higher quality voice recognition technology. The Amazon Echo Spot is basically a tiny alarm clock with a touch screen that contains the same capabilities as Alexa. In addition, this device contains a front-facing camera which enables customers to make video calls anywhere in the United States and Canada. The Echo Plus is is the same size as the original Echo, but can operate as a smart home hub, being able to connect to smart appliances throughout the house.

Link to article used: https://www.theverge.com/2017/9/27/16374254/amazon-event-2017-news-recap-echo-spot-fire-tv-hardware

Link to picture: http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-41417928

 

HOW MUCH DO ONLINE ADVERTISERS REALLY KNOW ABOUT YOU?

Have you ever noticed that when you are browsing websites online, the advertisements that pop up on the pages seem to match other things you have searched? For example, I may have been shopping for shoes online at DSW, and then later on when I’m scrolling through my Facebook feed, I see an advertisement featuring all of the shoes I had clicked on, even if I had searched the shoes on my laptop and was using Facebook on my iPhone. It’s almost as if advertisers are spying on us… which in a sense, they are.

“What this technology is really good at doing is following you from site to site, tracking your actions, and compiling them into a database, usually not by real name, but by a pseudonymous numerical identifier,” says Narayanan. Through the use of cookies and canvas fingerprinting, companies are able to essentially stalk us while on the internet. Cookie Syncing is a process where cookies are able to track you online and create a profile about you based on what you search, and they are able to share this information with the entities who are tracking you to join the IDs they gathered and discover which device you are on. They can use this to continue to build a more detailed profile of you as cookies come back again and again. Canvas Fingerprinting is a technique where a fingerprint is created for each device by assigning a number, since each device has a code that interacts in a slightly different way. This fingerprint can be used by third-parties to determine which user uses which device.

These technologies are extremely useful for marketers to help show advertisements that appeal to the user, but people are becoming concerned with how much information can be collected about us online without our knowledge, and how little transparency is used. Although companies say they are not using our real names, the data they collect is pseudonymous rather than anonymous, and therefore they could reveal our full name and identity if they wanted. So when does this technology cross the line of being harmless to being harmful? Should we be more concerned about our privacy online?

Article: https://www.digitaltrends.com/computing/how-do-advertisers-track-you-online-we-found-out/

Photo: http://www.shutterstock.com/gallery-1215860p1.html