The Promise and Pitfalls of Wearable Technology

It’s been almost impossible to avoid the constant stream of media reports discussing the pending release of the Apple Watch. While pundits delve into details about technical specifications and pricing of the watch, it’s easy to overlook the growing trend toward wearable technology (wearables) and the role this technology may play in the lives of those using it. Some will view these devices as expensive gadgets for tech lovers. Others believe this technology can offer important benefits to consumers, particularly …

The Thing About the Internet of Things

We’ve been hearing a lot lately about the “Internet of Things” (IoT). Often, the discussion revolves around issues associated with data privacy and cybersecurity. So what is the IoT and what’s all the fuss about? IoT refers to the ever-expanding array of devices that can communicate to external networks. While we all realize our computers and smartphones are connecting to the outside world, more and more devices such as fitness trackers, cameras, cars and thermostats are doing so as well. …

Is Someone Following You Around the Store as You Shop?

Well, they might be – if you are one of the 58 percent of adult Americans who own a smartphone. Each smartphone broadcasts a unique identifying code through signals emitted as the phone searches for available networks. Retailers can track these signals and follow the in-store movements of customers as they shop. Most consumers understand that online stores track shoppers as they navigate around their websites. Yet, few realize some brick-and-mortar retail stores and shopping malls are using smartphone mobile analytics …

What Health Apps Tell Outsiders About You

Hundreds of health applications these days can track our weight, steps, caloric intake, blood pressure – and even our friends’ workouts at the gym. And those diagnosed with an ailment can go online to get answers to health questions or share their stories with others suffering from the same illness. Sure, this can be useful for consumers seeking to take control of their health. These new outlets, however, raise other questions: Who else is looking at our medical information? And …

Are Those Fun Online Quizzes Invading Your Privacy?

What city should you live in? Which Love Boat character are you? What superpower should you have? Fun quizzes are all the rage online these days. Buzzfeed (which says I should live in Portland, Ore.) is leading the charge, but even the scholarly Pew Research Center (“How Millennial Are You?”) and the New York Times (“How Y’all, Youse and You Guys Talk”) have a hand in the fad. The exercises are addictive, shareable, entertaining. So what’s not to like? Here’s …

What Personal Information Is Your Mobile Device Sharing?

“Always on and always on you” describes the extent to which consumers have integrated cellphones, smartphones and tablets into their daily lives. How deeply do consumers depend on these mobile devices? One survey found 44 percent of cell owners have slept with their phone next to their bed because they were afraid to miss any calls, text messages or other updates during the night. As mobile device use continues to increase, there is growing concern that consumers are unaware how …