The connect future is almost here. We have so many Connected Tech products phones connected to the internet; TV’s connected to the internet, games consoles, smart meters, rubbish bins, advertising displays and even your car is now connected to the internet. Yet big business want even more connected.
I remember a few years ago how Radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags would be in everything we buy from the supermarket. No queuing up to pay as the tags will automatically tell the cashier or the self-service till what’s in your trolley/basket. No need to scan each product as it would emit a radio signal picked up by the tills. Your cans of beans would be connected.
When you then get home and put the eggs in the fridge it would update the fridge display. Telling you what’s inside the fridge and what the best before or use by dates are for each product inside. The fridge screen could also suggest meals based on its contents and tell you when you need more milk.
RFID tags in clothes would talk to the washing machine and tell it what the best setting is to wash said items at. No need to work out which of the 27 different programmes are best, making the process more environmentally efficient and better for your clothes.
Finally, how about your laptop or smart phone having a log of everything in your cupboards and knowing what you use the most. It will know what you are short on or what is missing. Automatically adding missing items to a shopping list for either a trip to the supermarket or uploading to an online shop for delivery.
You are already using tags in your passport, library book or work ID/pass. Even your smart phone will probably have a near field communication(NFC) device in it, as do new debit and credit cards. These are an extension of RFID. They allow the transfer of data actively, so smart phones can exchange pictures for example.
Yet the biggest area of development is in the smart payment side of NFC. No more swiping or inserting your card into a reader you simply tap it (or your enabled Smartphone) to the payment device and it’s done. Simply and quick transaction (In the UK you can spend up to £20 with this method)
This all sounds rather lovely, technology making out lives better once again. What could possibly be the issue here? Privacy
Back in the good old days when the internet was called the information super highway (I couldn’t see it being a hit personally, not until they changed the name at least). This new technology was emerging slowly. Websites were passive, one way communications. It told you something and that was that.
Over time we began to be able to interact with the sites, comments were added or forums attached to sites where us normal folk could speak our brains. Each comment or remark only connection to the last being a username next to it.
Flash forward to today and each and every comment we make can be tracked, we log into sites to comment which will then track our comments and page views, we will use social media to talk about this or that. So much so that the US government wants to keep an eye on us all and security companies devolve complex algorithms to work out who we are or might be.
Yet it’s not the Government that worries me as much as the private companies. Google for example has a huge amount of data on me. I’ve had a Gmail account since 2005, I use its search while I’m logged in, I can comment on other sites by using my Google name and I use an android phone powered by Google with Google Maps and Google+ pre installed it can track where I am and what I am doing and going to do.
Google Now is the culmination of data analysis. If you have a modern Android phone when you go to search a box below search tells you the weather, basic location data is available from the phone masts you are connected too (more detailed requires GPRS to be turned on). It will tell you how long to get home in traffic or by bus. It will update your favorite sports teams (no cricket). All very useful but not scary, well that is until you have booked a hotel room.
I have been away on two occasions over the last few months. Each time in a different city at different hotels. The day before I am due to check in, I get an additional weather tab of the city I am due to visit. At first it’s a little disconcerting then on the morning of your trip up pops a new tab, the hotel details and the check in times. My phone has become self aware.
Well not really, Google is searching my Gmail account and working out what is happening next and making this info available to me in a simple and effective way. Win for me and win for Google, it has new data on me and my life. If I was frequent flyer, the info would also appear here. Then Google further down the line could target specific adverts to me for certain shops at the airport.
It could also take the details of what Football team I follow and link it in specific content and of course advertising. So not only do I get the result I also get the shirt sponsors message or fizzy drinks company telling me that my team are great.
So if we take this one step ahead, and RFID tags do finally come into the home, what’s to say Google Home won’t come along and help manage our daily life, keeping all out important data in one place, making it easier than ever before to find the information we require while at home or away.
With this ease Google collects even more data on us, not only how we act (already available) but what we buy and what we eat and what we need. Who’s to say our whole home is will not be centralised with every part of our lives integrated into data.
For me it will be a step too far when a sensor is put in the loo. This will measure your own output which is then fed into a computer. This is then analysed and a detailed breakdown is provided, which can be compared to previous visits to give you an on the spot check. Any irregular activity would be passed to your Doctor. Not sure it will be called Google Poo though.