One American motto that has a long and glorified history (even back to Jesus), and a presence in the country’s early psyche is, “Don’t Tread On Me.” It’s like “Don’t Mess With Texas” but for the rest of us.
As an American, I’m growing increasingly tired of being tread upon. Hackers try to hack into data that doesn’t belong to them. Politicians try to manipulate voters. Online advertisers try to track our every move. I’m tired of being tracked, hacked, and tread upon, and here’s yet another example.
Yahoo! Did That?
Not yet, but the company wants to, and now that the secret is out, we’ll see even more of this so-called ultimate ad-targeting system. What is it? Yahoo! filed a patent application recently for a giant billboard that uses built-in sensors that can watch us, listen to us, track us, identify us, and gauge our reaction to advertising, changing it on the fly to match whoever walks by.
Such and electronic billboard would need the latest technology; cameras and microphones to see and hear us as we stand or walk nearby. It would need motion and proximity sensors to know when to begin tracking and targeting. Ditto for facial recognition. It would be an advertising system that could track us in many ways. Those folks in the tin foil hats don’t look so crazy now, do they?
In fact, such a tracking system could display advertising based upon who walks by, how many of a group walk by, and adjust the message based upon the age and clothing of those who walk in front of the scanners and sensors. Here in New York we have subway advertising and such a system could actually listen to our conversations while waiting for a train and modify the message to match.
Imagine this scenario. A group of young men or young women of the appropriate demographic (age, clothing, conversation) could pass by a large electronic billboard which would then change the advertising to a dating site ad. A somewhat older person in their 30s to 40s walking within range of the bio-scanners might be treated to ads about clothing or dining establishments nearby. What about mothers walking with their young ones or pushing a stroller? Instantly, the electronic billboard could recognize the type of person, and provide a digital advertisement to match in ways Google just can’t do.
What does this have to do with Apple?
Apple doesn’t collect such data and use it the same way as online advertising giants like Amazon, Google, Yahoo! and others use such data. Those entities and others are engaged in making money by stalking us; not just online, but as Amazon’s new patent application indicates, wherever we walk.
Apple makes money the old fashioned way. They build products people like. We give them money to use the products. That’s a fair exchange and far different from Amazon, Google, and even Yahoo! who give us free software to use in exchange for tracking everything we do.
Thank you, Apple, for not spying on me.