An upcoming trend for business to look out for is the “Beacon”. This is small device which businesses can place within their business to either gather information on its customers or push information to the customers by interacting with their smart phones (typically by a low-energy Bluetooth connection).
While this is not new technology, recent advances in the cost and power-efficiency of such beacons and the greater prevalence of smartphone users in general and smartphone users who use their devices while shopping, dining, or otherwise engaged in commerce in specific has made beacon deployment a far more attractive proposition for data-savvy businesses. Beacons allow businesses to not only engage in very accurate location tracking of customers, but to push messages directly to customers based upon their location (ex. As customer walks by a rack of clothing, a message can be pushed to them, letting them know that everything on that rack is 20% off for today only.). Likewise, businesses can track the flow of customer traffic, where they do and do not go, what order they visit places within an establishment, and even, potentially what items they stop an look at. This can, clearly, be powerful data for businesses to use, not only for interacting with customers, but in choosing layout of a business and other “customer experience” considerations.
On the downside, there are potential privacy and security implications of this technology, not only for the customers / consumers, but also for the businesses collecting this data. The more intrusive (and non-anonymous) the data a business collects on its customers, the greater the need for policies, procedures, and infrastructure for dealing with this data safely, securely, and withing the parameters of what the law requires. That having been said, this is very exiting technology that can open many new doors for businesses in terms of business intelligence and customer interaction.
Interesting. I can see the interesting things that can be accomplished with this technology, but the specter of getting barraged with adds on my phone when I walk into a mall is not attractive. I, for one, can say: if a place starts spaming based on proximity, that is one of the fastest ways to keep me from going to that location. Ever.
Alongside the introduction of Apple’s latest mobile operating system iOS 7, the company also rolled out its answer to the NFC technology it has gone out of its way to avoid in iPhones, iPads and iPod touch handhelds. The solution is called “iBeacon,” and it allows for the creation of Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) beacons that emit signals iOS 7-powered devices will automatically react to when they come within range of the beacon. These beacons can be apps installed on Apple’s iOS devices or they can be dedicated hardware that use BLE to interact with Apple handsets and tablets. There are some great use cases out there that really could make fantastic use of Apple’s new iBeacon feature, but there is also a darker side of iBeacons that could become a huge annoyance for iPhone owners and other iOS device users.
With the recent release of the iPhone 5s, a new privacy concern comes hand-in-hand with the new device. One of the features being debuted with the iPhone 5s is Apple’s Touch ID, which allows the iPhone user to, among other things, unlock their phone with their finger print, using an embedded fingerprint reader in the phone.
Although fingerprint readers in electronic devices is not a new thing, by any means, Touch ID appears to be among the first (if not the first) incorporation of this technology into an always connected mobile device. The concern with this new combination of technologies is over how the individual’s biometric data will be saved, who will have access to it, and how this may affect user’s privacy. These are questions which, based on the limited information which Apple has released about precisely how Touch ID works, remain unanswered.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has released final guidance dealing with medical applications running on mobile devices, including consumer smartphones and tablets. Under the new guidance, the FDA indicates that it intends to treat some apps with the same scrutiny which is applies to traditional medical devices.
This guidance has profound (although not entirely unexpected) impact on app developers exploring and exploiting the use of consumer electronic devices to empower people in medical and healthcare related ares. Under the new guidance, developers must look to the functionality of their software, and where appropriate, submit it to the FDA for review and approval. Typically the line of demarcation depends on whether the application interfaces with a regulated medical device, such as blood-pressure monitoring device, or if the app turns the mobile device into a device for assessing the health of an individual. Unfortunately, these lines are somewhat indistinct thus leaving app developers with open questions about whether apps that may skirt these lines are subject to FDA review or not.
This is an area where the law and regulations will continue to evolve over time. In the meantime, app developers who are venturing into products applications which could potentially fall within the jurisdiction of the FDA need to carefully consider their offering and implications of potential regulation by the FDA.
It appears that a police officer in Gwinnett County, Georgia (a suburban county to the Northeast of Atlanta, for the uninitiated) has issues nearly 800 tickets for texting and driving this year. According to the officer, the most common place where he catches offenders in the act is at traffic lights.
Georgia law prohibits not only texting, but any use of internet or web-based data, including web-based GPS navigation, while behind the wheel of a car, unless that car is parked and safely off the roadway.
Within just days of the release of the new iPhone 5s, it appreas that hackers have already found a way to break Apples new fingerprint-based biometric security feature, TouchID.
Apple indicates that it is working on fixes to this apparent vulnerability already, but in the meantime, it just goes to show that reliance on new security standards or features must be done cautiously until that system is thoroughly vetted.
Mashable.com has published an interesting article on the legal implications of Augmented Reality as a marketing and advertising tool.
In the past year, AR has increasingly moved out of the “gee-whiz” phase of just being a technological marvel into becoming a legitimate and increasingly adopted tool in the marketing arsenal of a significant number of companies. (The Mashable article cites Ikea and Philips electronics as two examples, but there are many more, with new-comers jumping on board each day.)
There are, however, a number of significant legal implications that companies need to factor into their decision of whether or not AR is an appropriate tool to use and, if so, how to implement it.
These legal concerns include general privacy and data security issues, truth in advertising regulations, child protection (COPPA) issues, just to name a few.
The takeaway here is: if you are using AR in your marketing and product delivery process OR if you are thinking of adding AR to the mix, make sure that you have thought through and implemented policies and procedures that will keep you on the right side of the applicable laws and regulations that apply. Failing to do so can lead you into a ugly (and expensive) virtual dead-end.