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Wearable Computers Make It Easy to Spy on You

The latest thing in technology is wearable computers: wristbands, watches and glasses. Google has invented glasses that incorporate both a computer screen and a camera, so that we can call up information with voice commands and capture an image of something just by looking at it. Start-up companies are in the process of developing pendants, clip-ons, bracelets and patches embedded with sensors that connect to your smartphone.

They can even measure what's going on with your body, which can be helpful when doing vigorous exercise. We already have "talking shoes," containing a tiny computer, sensors, speakers and a Bluetooth wireless controller, that harangue the wearer when he or she isn't moving fast enough.

In the March 22nd edition of the Financial Times, Chris Nuttall quotes computer analyst Sarah Rotman Epps as saying, "They unlock a domain of data that was previously inaccessible: data about the body. And that has unlimited potential.

"If you think about other domains and what we've been able to do--such as shopping or maps data--once something is mapped, you can create products and services around it, and so we’re only just scratching the surface with body-generated data that's captured by these wearable devices."

But more available technology means more chances for identity theft. Nuttall quotes technology researcher Justin Rattner as saying, "As we sense in real time more and more about the individual, such as moods and behavior, we need to provide near absolute guarantees that the information will not be subject to theft or attack, down to the silicon melting and still not giving up its data." Otherwise, you could unknowingly walk past someone who could steal all your data using HIS eye glasses!

On BBC News, Jason Palmer reports that it's easy to identify a cell phone user from just a few pieces of location information, and human mobility patterns are so predictable that it's possible to identify a user from only four data points. Whenever a cell phone is on, its connection to the network means its position and movement can be plotted. because every cell phone contains a G.P.S. device. This data are of great value to advertisers and service providers, but also, for example, to people who plan shopping centers or emergency services.

The newest idea? Technology you can INGEST! Companies are developing pills with chips inside that communicate with a smartphone app as they pass through the body, reporting on the health of our internal organs and perhaps searching for signs of cancer. Could this replace diagnostic tests like mammograms? Could we "poop" the pill out if we decide we don't want it anymore? As Nuttall says, "This may ultimately prove too hard to swallow."

We've got lots of good things for you to swallow at our Nashville Symposium, because your ticket price includes breakfast Saturday and Sunday and lunch on Saturday, not to mention some of the most dynamic speakers you can hear, who will each present TWO talks!



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