Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Beyond telephony - Here comes Radio Tracking

AlterNet: Are You Being Tracked?

This news is hardly new, but today's story goes into some depth about the future of Radio Frequency Identification. It was originally the idea of developing businesses who wanted to track their products and utility companies wanting a way to remotely read their meters. It was also seen as a workable method of bypassing the web to deliver software upgrades for fixed hardware devices. But in an age where every downstream is also an upstream, it is another gift to the big brother mindset.

Tomorrow's fashion accessory could be a shirt with an electronic fabric. Or maybe just a tie. You will simply download the pattern you want to wear that day. There'll be a whole industry born for a new kind of garment design. Eventually the patterns will move and respond to your enviroment. Lastly, they'll be accompanied by a compulsory advertising logo which may indeed become a "must-have" emblem in it's own right. Any originality will simply be re-packaged as conformity and the lowest common denomiator will prevail as everyone tried to keep up with everyone else. The commerce wars of today's sportwear makers are but a hint of what may come. Your new uniform will be your marketing subscription.

Some will love it and for a while the novelty value will make it great fun. The question is not how long it will take the consumers to realise that the same technology is tracking their every move - it is how long it will take for the wearers to accept and forget that their every move is being tracked. It is then that big brother will have made us complete pawns in some mysterious greater game.

As the multi-day binge concludes and we all embrace the wonder of whatever technological gadgets we have acquired, maybe it would be wise to think more closely about their potential for abuse. And just why does that MP3 player, so cheap at the price, insist on trying to connect to the internet when you don't need it to? Maybe the Bush "wire-tap" mentality is already obselete - the future is the craft of "wireless-tap".


No comments: