Monthly Archives: March 2013

Augmented Reality- What You See Is Not All You Get
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Ever since, and arguably before, the scientific proceedings of Dr. Albert Hoffman, humankind has worked to change our perception of reality. This is a tradition that has yet to fade to the recesses of time. New technology such as Google’s Glass or applications like Wikitude are changing how we see the world and making the information hidden therein visible to the naked eye. Imagine exploring the Louvre with this information- you’ll be the one giving the tour with all the information popping up on your screen. You won’t need a virtual world to enjoy games anymore because the characters will appear in your world on your screen or glasses.  However, over the decades, we’ve learned that Dr. Hoffman’s augmented reality is not without consequence. Will the same be true for our interactions with the world via our mobile devices, smartphones, tablets, glasses or otherwise?

For example, we can make information and objects appear, but the converse is true as well. The technology already exists to make things disappear from your vision of reality. It is called diminished reality. Imagine never having to struggle through running into your former significant other. With this technology, especially if you were wearing technology similar to Glass, you could erase the offending party from your perception of reality. Through the world of your screen, they simply aren’t there. Apply this idea to ideas other people, or any other source of information. What we end up with is a potential increase in the apathy department. Conversely, imagine someone having all your Facebook, Twitter, etc. information before you’ve spoken. Noteworthy silver lining: First date awkwardness will be a thing of the past.

As my parents have come to loathe over the years, the younger generation always has the advantage with new tech. Imagine the ability of those who are young now. With the ability to augment what they and their friends see, cyberbullying could be taken to a whole new level. It is noteworthy to say that any technology should be looked at with a cynical eye when it comes to future generations- not just augmented reality.

Don’t take this  article as a condemnation of AR. I think augmented reality is an amazing and applicable-to-life technology, as long as we aren’t removed from true reality more than we already are. I already have AR apps on my smartphone, and I hope to get my hands on Glass as soon as I can. For more information on augmented reality, peruse these videos:


How It Feels through Glass – Google Glass Official Promo

Wikitude 7

Sight: Contact Lenses with Augmented Reality- not a real product, but it’s good to dream and plan ahead if necessary.

Engineering Newswire 30: Augmented Reality Recognizes Your Friends

-Benjamin Jeffirs


- Robot Fruit

This entry was posted in Mobile News on March 29, 2013 .

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Is Your Mobile Usage Secure?
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New technology always comes with inherent risks. The ramifications are not understood until we have lived with the technology long enough to both taste the benefits and feel the sting of the shortcomings. From the onset of mobile technology, we’ve realized the benefits as more applications roll out from a virtually endless supply of developers, but are just now demanding that our rights and privacy are protected. The abilities of these applications are powerfully endless, but as our favorite web-slinger has taught us, “Great power comes with great responsibility.”

As it would happen, not all application developers have kept that in mind. Because of their personalized nature, many applications have access to information that they shouldn’t- especially when you don’t realize it’s being collected. The FTC (Federal Trade Commission) recently happened upon a developer that was (inadvertently) collecting the user’s entire Address Book from their mobile device. There are also exceptional issues with location-based applications, such as several GPS applications. Many applications, for the simple lack of space, have been avoiding any sort of useful disclosures. In some cases, security issues were problematic enough that state governments stepped in to protect their citizens, such as in this story from Texas or this one from California.

The latter touches on an important point: It is important to note that most developers of both application and the operating system they run on are interested in protecting privacy. The lack of standardization is the biggest culprit. The FTC released this guideline for the professionals behind the tech:

The report recommends that mobile platforms should:

  • Provide just-in-time disclosures to consumers and obtain their affirmative express consent before allowing apps to access sensitive content like geolocation;

  • Consider providing just-in-time disclosures and obtaining affirmative express consent for other content that consumers would find sensitive in many contexts, such as contacts, photos, calendar entries, or the recording of audio or video content;

  • Consider developing a one-stop “dashboard” approach to allow consumers to review the types of content accessed by the apps they have downloaded;

  • Consider developing icons to depict the transmission of user data;

  • Promote app developer best practices.  For example, platforms can require developers to make privacy disclosures, reasonably enforce these requirements, and educate app developers;

  • Consider providing consumers with clear disclosures about the extent to which platforms review apps prior to making them available for download in the app stores and conduct compliance checks after the apps have been placed in the app stores; and

  • Consider offering a Do Not Track (DNT) mechanism for smartphone users.  A mobile DNT mechanism, which a majority of the Commission has endorsed, would allow consumers to choose to prevent tracking by ad networks or other third parties as they navigate among apps on their phones.

App developers should:

  • Have a privacy policy and make sure it is easily accessible through the app stores;

  • Provide just-in-time disclosures and obtain affirmative express consent before collecting and sharing sensitive information (to the extent the platforms have not already provided such disclosures and obtained such consent);

  • Improve coordination and communication with ad networks and other third parties that provide services for apps, such as analytics companies, so the app developers can better understand the software they are using and, in turn, provide accurate disclosures to consumers.  For example, app developers often integrate third-party code to facilitate advertising or analytics within an app with little understanding of what information the third party is collecting and how it is being used.

  • Consider participating in self-regulatory programs, trade associations, and industry organizations, which can provide guidance on how to make uniform, short-form privacy disclosures.

Advertising networks and other third parties should: 

  • Communicate with app developers so that the developers can provide truthful disclosures to consumers;

  • Work with platforms to ensure effective implementation of DNT for mobile.

App developer trade associations, along with academics, usability experts and privacy researchers can:

  • Develop short form disclosures for app developers;

  • Promote standardized app developer privacy policies that will enable consumers to compare data practices across apps;

  • Educate app developers on privacy issues.

We have been living with our tablets, smartphones, and whatnot for near on a decade now. In addition to creating a standard for developers to follow, we as consumers also have a certain responsibility to protect ourselves. For the best ways to bulwark yourself, take a gander through the FTC’s guide for personal information security, both online and off.

-Benjamin Jeffirs



- Robot Fruit

This entry was posted in Mobile News on March 27, 2013 .

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