Remote Tracking Network Technology

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Remote Tracking Network Technology

Over the past few years, technologies have emerged that make it easier for people to know where they are, figure out how to get where they want to go, and how to get there faster.

But there can be a cost for all this convenience:  users' privacy.  Consider the case of Chicago Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher, who was involved last year in a bitter custody battle.  Urlacher testified that he tried to pick up his son for visitations four times during a two-month period, but Tyna Robertson, the child's mother, did not bring the boy to meet him at a highway oasis in Hinsdale, Illinois as scheduled. 

In a subsequent hearing, Robertson's attorneys produced evidence that Urlacher was actually nowhere near the meeting place on those four days.

How could the lawyers prove where Urlacher was at a specific point in time several months earlier?  They used his cell phone records and the list of tolls he paid automatically with the I-Pass transponder in his vehicle to show his exact location at each scheduled visitation time, which was nowhere near Hinsdale.

This is the chilling side effect of all of the technologies that help us to track our own location and get where we want to go.  Those same technologies allow others to see where we've been and where we're going.

But the current technologies and applications are just the forerunners of many more smart systems that will soon surround us and increasingly know where we are and what we are doing. 

Consider a revolutionary new type of billboard.  Video displays developed by Samsung with advertising firm Reactrix Systems will soon appear in the lobbies of Hilton hotels.  Instead of presenting a two-dimensional, static image, the new billboards will display 3-D images that move in response to the movements of passersby.1 

The displays use cameras that can capture information about people who come within 15 feet.  Next, computer algorithms interpret what that information means so that the displays can respond appropriately.  For example, if two people are holding hands, a display can respond by showing a picture of a candlelit dinner in the hotel restaurant.  While this technology seems benign, it could spark privacy concerns among hotel guests who do not want cameras recording their presence in the lobby.

One technology that is just reaching the market is CitySense, a new "location-based services" application for Blackberry devices from a startup called Sense Networks.  CitySense is the consumer application of Macrosense, a technology that gathers huge amounts of location data from GPS devices in cars and GPS-enabled cell phones...

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