Channel Next: TBI’s Bryan Reynolds on the ‘Digital You’ and Security Concerns

TBI's Bryan Reynolds

Bryan Reynolds

By Bryan Reynolds, senior manager of post sales for TBI, and Channel Next member  

Do industry trends drive technology, or does technology drive industry trends? When pondering this “chicken or egg” question, I can’t help but look back at the past couple of decades and see how far we’ve advanced technologically as a society.

As an example, Facebook revolutionized the social connection world, giving rise to Twitter and Instagram. Hundreds upon thousands upon millions of users started to use social-media services, and, to stay relevant, these companies then started to push the boundaries of their offerings for their users. That brought about the need for better processors and cameras, which allowed every software/platform company to push the boundaries even further. This never-ending cycle brought us (among other things) applications and hardware that can recognize our faces and turn us into any number of mythical characters in real time.

Don’t get me wrong, this is all a lot of fun. I enjoy turning myself into a cartoon character and sending ridiculous pictures off to my friends from time to time. But face-recognition technology has much more serious implications for our future. A great example of this is how a police force in a province in China is rolling out the use of smart glasses that can recognize and track people in real time. Just imagine: You have an unpaid parking ticket and get on public transit, only to be stopped by a police officer and questioned about your outstanding ticket. Scary, right? Yes! Why would you want to live in a surveillance state? I’m not even going to get into the legal implications of such a system, but you can imagine that it raises a lot of questions and concerns.

Not all tech advances are full-on dystopian doom and gloom. As you might have heard, Amazon is rolling out stores that don’t have checkouts, with other retailers looking to do the same. You simply walk in, put what you need in your basket, then walk out. This gives a whole new meaning to the word “convenience” and is certainly a trend that partners with retail customers need to track. These stores work by employing hundreds of cameras that read labels, using machine learning, and track the shopper’s movements. The cameras work in tandem with sensors in the store’s shelves, all the while gathering data about your preferences.

Pretty convenient, right? Sure, but let’s think about the type of data that is being collected. Not only are your preferences stored for predictive selling, but also your body type, shape and movement style. Now a “digital you” is hanging out on a server somewhere.

This is a touchy subject with people of all ages. Because of the extent of data about you that can be “mined,” my own mother won’t use her credit card to buy things online. Having your credit-card information stolen is a huge inconvenience; having a cybercriminal able to capture the “digital you” is …

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