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CES 2014: New gadgets help kids spy on mom and programmable Mom spy on everyone

Jan 06, 20144 mins
BiometricsData and Information SecurityMicrosoft

"Technology for a Better World honorees" at CES 2014 include a robot for kids to spy on mom and an "upgraded" Mother to monitor everything in your daily life.

A plethora of new gadgets will come out of CES 2014; some are delightful and others are disturbing, depending upon where you fall off the fence when it comes to privacy and security. In fact, some of the descriptions, which were surely meant to be considered cool, seemed uber-creepy.

Under “Technology for a Better World honorees” for the 2014 CES Innovations Design and Engineering Awards, there are both mom “spies” and ways to spy on mom. For example:  

Spying on Mom: Tyche, by AIBrain, Inc., was described as “A $200 robot companion for kids that follows the voice command: ‘Go to the kitchen, find Mom, take a picture of her and return here.’ A cellphone provides processor, cameras, microphones, sensors.” It’s probably supposed to be fun, but what if mom doesn’t want her picture taken? Do you like the idea of teaching kids to surreptitiously engage in surveillance?

Mom the spy: Would you want to bring mom, who “knows everything without needing to ask,” back into your daily life? That may depend upon your relationship with your mom, but claims to have reinvented and upgraded mom so that she is programmable.

Mother, with help from her MotionCookies, can tell you if your kids brushed their teeth properly. Did you take your pills? Did you get enough exercise? Do you drink too much coffee and not enough water?

Mother is the central character that takes care of everything: safety, fitness, comfort, daily routines and more. Select an App: Mother & MotionCookies will track & analyze what you care about.

Four “small and slick” sensors, called “MotionCookies,” can be “affixed to almost anything” and assigned a task. They were described as chameleon sensors having “the power to detect and understand the movements of objects and people.”

Apps to help you feel better, gain peace of mind, know yourself and your environment better, make life easier. Mother will know how to help you in more and more areas of your daily life. Select the App that meets your current needs and concerns. Mother and her Motion Cookies will seamlessly adapt. Not all concerns last a lifetime. Once your problem is solved, simply choose another App.

There are some cool apps, such as intrusion detection and others that help Mother keep track of your “secrets.” Naturally “you don’t want your Mother to record certain things. Just push the Pause button on the smartphone app or simply remove the related Cookie from its location.” Thankfully, “All data generated by devices you buy is yours, only yours. Period. At any time, you can of course choose to delete all your recorded data.”

Although neither of the next two wearable technology examples were honorees or award winners, they bring gimmicky gadgets to biometrics.

Interaxon’s Muse, a “brain sensing headband,” measures brainwaves and, according to the Washington Post, “could presumably tell whether the wearer is bored with a conversation or having trouble focusing on a task.” The company claims that data collected from your brainwave activity is “securely stored and is not publicly accessible.”

There are even wearable biometrics for dogs; Voyce “monitors key vital signs including heart rate and respiratory rate, along with other wellness indicators such as activity, rest, calories burned, and more” through “wearable technology and proprietary algorithms.”

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ms smith

Ms. Smith (not her real name) is a freelance writer and programmer with a special and somewhat personal interest in IT privacy and security issues. She focuses on the unique challenges of maintaining privacy and security, both for individuals and enterprises. She has worked as a journalist and has also penned many technical papers and guides covering various technologies. Smith is herself a self-described privacy and security freak.