Roomba finds a cool way to ramp up the paranoia level for tin-foil hat wearers

For the last couple of years, the newer models of Roomba have been quietly mapping homes to maximize efficiency. Now, the device’s makers plan to sell that data to smart home device manufacturers and possibly to companies such as Amazon, Google and Apple (Roomba is already compatible with Alexa, for example).

“If a company like Amazon, for example, wanted to improve its Echo smart speaker, the Roomba’s mapping info could certainly help out. Spatial mapping could improve audio performance by taking advantage of the room’s acoustics. Do you have a large room that’s practically empty? Targeted furniture ads might be quite effective. The laser and camera sensors would paint a nice portrait for lighting needs that would factor into smart lights that adjust in real time. Smart AC units could better control airflow. And additional sensors added in the future would gather even more data from this live-in double agent.”

One way to avoid giving your data would be to turn off the cloud service and go analog, rendering the IoT aspect of the product useless.

Story on Gizmodo

Why It’s Hot

It’s hot as hell for marketers because this will unlock hyper-targeted ads to people on a micro level, but maybe not as hot for consumers who feel that they have to make a big compromise with their privacy just to vacuum their floors.

Alexa, we have a problem

Google Home is about to offer a feature Amazon’s Alexa can’t match: finds from local stores.

Google Home

The new feature is powered by local inventory feeds sent by retailers that buy ads on Google. In the past year, local shopping queries have increased 45 percent and the search giant has doubled the number of retailers that send local inventory feeds.

With this new feature, Google is offering users something Amazon doesn’t — a way to find merchandise at your local store and try before you buy.

It’s all part of Google’s long-term strategy to develop products and services that use artificial intelligence to make it easier for people to interact with computers – that, in turn, will feed into Google’s ad-based business model.

https://www.cnbc.com/amp/2017/03/21/google-home-vs-amazon-echo-for-shopping.html

Why It’s Hot
-It continues the local digital trend that’s grown over the past couple of years
-It’s also another interesting bridge between eCommerce and advertising – with a healthy mix of IoT thrown in

IoT Oh My!

Sex toy maker We-Vibe has agreed to pay customers up to C$10,000 (£6,120) each after shipping a “smart vibrator” which tracked owners’ use without their knowledge.

WeVibe

The We-Vibe 4 Plus is a £90 bluetooth connected vibrator, which can be controlled through an app. Its app-enabled controls can be activated remotely, allowing, for instance, a partner on the other end of a video call to interact.

But the app came with a number of security and privacy vulnerabilities, allowing anyone within bluetooth range to seize control of the device.

In addition, data is collected and sent back to Standard Innovation, letting the company know about the temperature of the device and the vibration intensity – which, combined, reveal intimate information about the user’s sexual habits.

https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/mar/14/we-vibe-vibrator-tracking-users-sexual-habits

Why It’s Hot
As we continue to talk about our bodies as the ultimate database – along with the opportunities and risks that entails – few examples seem as illustrative as this!

Bridging the CX Understanding Gap

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As customer experience (CX) continues to drive business transformation, we are met with a general lack of understanding around what and how to move forward. Forrester research revealed more than 60% of decision makers are still holding on innovation related to the Internet of Things. The Internet of Things is CX. People expect connectivity; people expect effortless data integration that improves the way they move through the world. This is nothing to delay and “assess.” The CX winners lean in hard early. They experiment. They fail. They pick themselves back up and try again.  People more than welcome that now, they expect it.

Ten Ways IoT is here! (And consumers may not like it).

The Internet of Things (IoT). Across many industries this is at the core of their tech, data and innovation strategies – from refrigerators to cars and on and on. Everyone is excited and cannot wait! Or do we really know what we are getting into? (MRM already works with a facial-recognition software company). For the most part we focus on consumer products and they impact of IoT will have; but there are many more areas that IoT is actually in place or about to be — and one issue looms large: what about privacy? Who owns all this data that will collected? Here are 10 good examples from TechRepublic:

1: Transportation infrastructure

The insertion of sensors at key points of highways and railways is enabling cities to monitor the wellness of their transportation infrastructures, along with events like traffic flow and congestion. The information these IoT sensors send back to headquarters is used to notify motorists of heavy congestion points and alternate routes.

2: Safety of sensitive goods during transport

Foodstuffs and medical supplies often require stringent temperature and humidity controls during storage and shipment. To facilitate climate control, logistics companies use environmentally controlled, sealed containers. The containers are equipped with sensors that emit status reports to a central network so they can be monitored for adherence to humidity and temperature controls.

3: Logistics tracking and performance

Major logistics carriers now use trucks that are sensor equipped so shipments can be tracked along routes, optimum delivery routes can be used, and timeliness can be tracked. In some cases, sensors are also used to track speeds, braking habits, etc., of drivers to ensure that the safest and most environmentally friendly driving practices are used.

4: Equipment diagnostics and preventive maintenance on the factory floor

As manufacturers adopt new 21st century practices, equipment within the factory is being outfitted with sensors that automatically flash an alert into the central factory operations monitoring network when a weakening component or other failure-inducing condition is detected.

5: Smart street lights

Street lights with IoT capability now “communicate” with city utility managers who are miles away, sending IoT data on energy usage and enabling remote adjustments to lighting to compensate for local environmental conditions—such as dimming the lights on a moonlit night or increasing lighting during rainstorms and fog. The ability to climate-adjust street lighting economizes energy usage and reduces energy costs.

6: Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs)

Aerial drones equipped with IoT sensors are being used by oil and gas exploration companies, mining companies, and agribusiness to chart and monitor remote, difficult to access areas and to measure elements such as soil composition and moisture content. The ability to perform these operations remotely saves field time and reduces the safety risk incurred when personnel are dispatched to remote and uncharted areas.

7: Inventory tracking during shipment

In areas of the world where the theft of inventory from trucks in transit for sale on the black market is widespread, transportation companies are attaching IoT sensors to packages and are making the practice known to locals. In one case, a transporter reported that the theft rate had fallen from 50% of inventory to 4% after IoT sensors were installed.

8: Home and business energy monitoring

The devices assist them in controlling energy consumption—whether it be for an individual home, a business, or a data center.

9: Mobile device tracking

In 2014 alone, more than 10 million mobile devices were lost in the UK. The worldwide total of lost or stolen mobile devices is undoubtedly staggering.

10: Safety monitoring/tracking of Alzheimer’s patients

Individuals suffering from Alzheimer’s or other mentally debilitating disorders can now be tracked via IoT sensors in case they leave the home and can’t find their way back. In addition, IoT sensors can serve as a safety net for potentially dangerous situations. For example they can be attached to stove gas burners in case a burner is turned on and left unattended.

Why is this hot? While there is a lot of buzz and excitement around IoT, most of the mass public is unaware of these advances – beyond the news and hype around driverless cars. But the IoT is in direct conflict with privacy concerns consumers have. While the examples given do not seem like the sources of personal data, they are the tip of the iceberg which is showing. Just imagine what is going on in the world of medical devices, trackables, wearable’s — Pandora’s Box has been opened but no one is quite sure what the results of doing so will be.

The chart below, from Globalwebindex.com highlights the collision of hype and fear:

Global Index consumer data worries 3.3.16

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ransoming my health data? Wearable’s and Cyber security

According to a recent Forrester Report on Cybersecurity, hacking health records, devices and wearable’s and using the information to ransom — yes, ransom — people’s health data is on the rise. On the face of it, it seems odd, after all why would anyone want my health data and what would they do with it? Aren’t these criminals satisfied with my credit cards or Social Security number? No. A credit card can be cancelled, your health records are permanent.

This was the headline on MedCityNews after they read the Forrester report:

The biggest cybersecurity threat for 2016 could be hackers holding patients ransom for the use of their medical device

Seems dramatic? Maybe not. Ask the 4.5 million records hacked from UCLA Medical Center — they suspected it was criminals looking for celebrities health records.

H sauce 11.19 hospital breaches

Ask the 80 million people who trust Anthem and had their information hacked.

H Sauce cyber Hack UCLA 11.19

At the heart of this disturbing trend is the rise of Ransomware, a form of malware.  FastCompany wrote about the Ransomware trend recently (http://goo.gl/bDlelc): Symantec estimated conservatively that upwards of $5 million is ransomed every year. How do they prefer to get paid? Bitcoin the favorite currency of choice.

H Sauce 11.19 hacking RansomWhy is this hot? Because as the explosion of Electronic Health Records, wearable’s, devices and the looming Internet of Things all coalesce, we see that the healthcare industry has lagged far behind others in putting proper measures in place to protect the most intimate information of all. The prevalence of the malware is accelerating faster than the security measures of the industry. Data is growing exponentially, yet protection of it is in its infancy.

H Sauce wearable growth 11.20

As Eric Cowperthwaite  the CEO of Core Strategy a security firm said: “…if the health care data stolen from these breaches was ever combined with the data stolen from the Office of Personnel Management, it would be the Holy Grail of electronic data on almost all people with government clearances,” Cowperthwaite said.

Imagine this message: “We know you suffer from major depression? How would you like the world to know?” Or if you failed a drug test, or had a preexisting condition that could hurt your job prospects. This is so scary, it just gets darker the more you think about it. Stay tuned for what the security industry reaction is.

Density Helps You Know Where to Go or Avoid…

density1
[image credit: Density]

Density is a new internet-connected device/sensor that discretely and anonymously counts the number of people who have come to or left a location, giving anyone privy to the data a real-time idea of how crowded a location is. This effectively benefits both the owner/employees of a location, as well as the people who might want or need to visit that location.

The easiest real world example is probably a bar, the owner of which would always know how packed it is, and could decide how to adjust resources (or promotion) accordingly, knowing daily/weekly/seasonal trends, in addition to what’s happening on a minute-by-minute basis. On the “customer” side, knowing how crowded a location is can obviously either help you find the rager, or the quiet, low key setting you want to join. Some other examples Density gives on its website, the usefulness of which I think we can all admit, is knowing how busy the DMV, the Grocery Store, or even one of your conference rooms is.

To tap into this information for any location that has already installed the sensor, download Density’s app.

Why It’s Hot

While it’s certainly not the first service to tell you which locations are most densely packed, it’s the first that I’m aware of to offer a scientifically sound way of knowing (previous apps have mostly relied on voluntary “check in” data pulled from either Facebook or Foursquare/Swarm). And, it’s a connected device that can capture data to be used both by its owner, and anyone else who might want to harness that information, or combine it with other information to make it even more useful/insightful. The Internet of Things is slowly but surely making everything smarter, and this is one small addition that seems to offer a very logical benefit.

[Source: PSFK]

The IoT for Kids

A few months ago, I told my in-laws that we had microchips implanted in our kids, so that we could locate them if lost or stolen. They said they did the same with their dogs. I was so surprised that I forgot to tell them I was kidding…and maybe I’ll never have to, because micro-chipping (well, not exactly, but close) may be available at retail by the next holiday season!

Fuhu, the company that makes Nabi tablets for children, wants to open the IoT’s market to kids. They’re in the early stages of devising a “connected room” platform for kids built around sensors, monitors and cloud services, all designed to supply information – and hopefully peace of mind – to parents.

Baby products can track feeding and sleeping. Products aimed at toddlers may track the child’s movement around the house, so that a parent can be notified if a kid wanders to an unsafe space, such as one with cleaning products or power cords.

7-10-2015 9-12-02 AM

The various items under development include a mini light for the changing table that can track how often you change a baby’s diaper. Another is an air pollution sensor that tracks pollen, mold and dust. One sensor is meant to be worn by mom to track how often and how long she nurses her baby.

All the devices can be controlled by mom and dad through an app on an iPad or one of Fuhu’s Nabi tablets. The goal is that the data that’s collected will be analyzed to help identify patterns in a child’s health. The products will be modular, useful and affordable, priced at $49-99 a piece.

Why it’s Hot: Parents worry about their children’s well-being all the time. Information alone may allay concern, and if not, will enable the parents to conduct better research or have more productive discussions with a pediatrician. Further off in the future, perhaps these devices will enable two-way communication, so that under certain circumstances (e.g., baby is dehydrated or episodes of upset stomach can be attributed to a particular food, implying allergy), helpful information is sent to the parents…and we all know who likes to sponsor or underwrite helpful information…Pedialyte, Gerber, Enfamil, Huggies, Piedmont Pediatrics, United Healthcare, Mayo Clinic, et al.