Brian McLane

Media and Social Commentary

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July 16th, 2011 · No Comments · Social Commentary, Technology

A Company called GenTag has technology that monitors your health through your cell phone. You go to a store, scan a product and up pops a hologram from Lady Gaga with a back story on the item you want to purchase. Or Justin Bieber, or Lebron James. You get the idea. Mobile phones and new technologies are on the ground floor of what will surely be an explosion in retail and PR.

As those who know me and or read my column know, I was entrenched in the mobile content and text message marketing arena for years. I had several successes but more near misses than I care to admit which IS why I made the switch to joining New York Life as an Agent. That said, I still keep my ear to the handset so to speak and have been attending Mobile Mondays for years (though admittedly less since the birth of Sofia).

This Monday they are hosting an event at Goodwin Proctor about the use of Barcodes that I find particularly interesting.

I was close with a fellow named John McGinnis who was involved in some truly cutting edge RFID technologies as they were being employed particularly with uses for the mobile networks and service providers. So he had told me some of these things back in 2006 but it was difficult enough to make agencies see the value of mobile video or texting programs let alone location based or bar code technologies. What you ask does RFID and Barcode Technology have to do with cell phones? Good question.

Apps available on iPhone and Android such as RedLaser on iPhone and ShopSavvy on Android, allow you to scan a barcode on a product or object and get more information about it. Nothing harmless there. But increasingly people will be able to Using yet another new technology called NFC or Near Field Communications which is an offshoot of RFID that will be increasingly employed for mobile shopping and mass transit applications.

Location-aware apps will use location tracking (GPS) to send you discount coupons based on where you happen to be, and get this, augmented reality apps will use a mobile phone’s camera view with multiple layers of related information. Sort of like the minority report. In Tokyo this is already commonplace. Mobile Phone users interact regularly with RFID Powered Billboards. Great for events, in stores, product launches, it’s every marketer’s wet dream.

Television producers are using RFID within the production of their shows such as Big Brother where celebrities wear a battery-powered RFID tag that reads data captured from interrogators deployed throughout the Big Brother house. After all the show is called “Big Brother.”

But it doesn’t stop there. How about using RFID through your phone to monitor your health. Yup.

Market forecasts predict that up to 1 out of 2 phones in the future will be RFID-enabled and with them the emergence of RFID sensor networks. A company called GENTAG, Inc. “owns several patents covering the combination of cell phones with removable or built-in sensor modules for consumer, medical, industrial and Homeland Security applications.”

And here’s where it starts getting creepy especially when you’re talking about big pharma. And who else can perhaps purchase this data? Insurance Companies? (Did the primary REALLY quit smoking 2 years ago?) Divorce Lawyers? (Where was the Defendant all those nights he said he was working late). Uh huh…. Now what about all those skeletons in your closet?

Previous purchase records for each person who shops at a retail or say at a pharmacy (look on the side of your last prescription bottle), are collected by POS terminals and stored in a transaction database. When a person carrying or wearing items having RFID tags (some are embedded within your garments), enters the store or other designated area, a RFID tag scanner reads the RFID tag information and same is correlated with transaction records. Worse, correlation algorithms can make determinations about certain characteristics about a person and send them offers, or monitor their comings and goings.

All because of your phone.

It’s as fascinating as it is perhaps inevitable. People will 98 percent of the time sell out their privacy for convenience. In any case, if you want a first hand look, come to this Mobile Monday event.

Here are the details.

Barcode Event – July 25
Moderator – Angie Schottmuller

Goodwin Procter LLP
The New York Times Building
620 Eighth Avenue, 26th Floor

July 25 at 7 pm.
Doors open at 6:30 pm
Panel 7:00 pm – 8:00 pm
Networking & Drinks 8:00 pm – 9:30 pm
Free – but registration is required to attend.

I will definitely be at this event.

Now if you want to freak yourself out, here are a couple of videos about RFID from one of my favorite radio shows COAST TO COAST AM with George Noory.


Creep yourself out and listen to what your cell phone is giving up about you

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