THIS IS THE FIRST TIME that I carry communications technology that connects me to people, places and events without my prompting and often without my knowledge. Based on what I see on several different apps, I know dozens of friends who are equally clueless.
There are experts who are trying to alert us to the fast evolution of context-aware personal systems. These systems have become mainstream and part of our culture but a lot of us don't know what it means.
- Aggregators have morphed from serving newsfeeds to providing increasingly personal updates, often derived from ambient intimate moments like the amalgamation of check-ins shown by the screenshot from Foursquare at right. This clever information harvesting is so commonplace that it blurs lines of privacy that once shrouded our mundane lives.
To manage this torrent of personal information, people are putting other people into lists, circles or groups where information about those cohorts bubbles up onto the front screen of phones. These used to be little updates that expanded into view at the bottom of a laptop screen. Now the updates come to the very front of mobile phone screens where they are as prominent as an unanswered text message.
- Facial recognition software on social network servers everywhere has changed raucous pub moments into potentially career-threatening events. I know couples whose relationships were rocked by the appearance of affectionate old flames in the a mobile phone photo frame. The faces appear as news items and they resurrect buried memories. Such is the impact of very intelligent cameraphones in purses everywhere. The phones upload photos without a single prompt. And sometimes they share the results with the world.
- I haven't seen a phone tell a car's dashboard what to do but I've seen clever telematics in action and know that before the end of the decade I will own a car that is as smart as my phone is today. The car should be smart enough to prevent me from driving while intoxicated and the phone I have in 2020 should be smart enough to execute verbal commands to all communications services.
- I think it's amazing to watch my Android phone send all its images and video clips directly up to the cloud. It's very empowering seeing the phone display summaires of 100 GB of my current scratch work via Crashplan on the phone.
- I enjoy being able to play DVDs from my phone to television sets through either DLNA or HDMI connections. My mobile phone has become an intelligent DVD player.
- Professional identity specialists. Because phones leak personal data, you can now buy an assumed identity from dodgy characters who used to specialise in spamming your e-mail or infecting your computer with a virus. These aren't teenagers out for a law. They are professional identity specialists (ok, thieves) and part of their chosen career path evolved as a result of procuring megabytes of data from stolen handsets.
- Skype, Hangouts, VoIP calling and Facetimes--all of these technologies are simple enough for your granny and they are extremely effective in reducing the time it takes to reach a business decision.
Previously on my blog: "Emerging Trends", December 30, 2003.