8 Things You Didn’t Know Were Watching You
It’s no secret that surveillance–both by government agencies and corporations–has become a major part of society. So too is tracking our actions and preferences as consumers. Data mining alone is a 100 billion dollar industry.
We think it’s creepy. Actually, creepy isn’t a strong enough word. We think it is…WRONG and DEMENTED. We decided to make a list of all the random things watching you. And these objects aren’t just tracking data, trends, your browser history or credit card patterns, these things are actually watching YOU.
Buckle up, kiddos–time to rip the clothes off that decrepit pervy emperor!
The Statue of Liberty
That’s right, Lady Liberty, the monolithic structure that greets our poor, tired, huddled masses, is WATCHING YOU. Actually, it has been since 2002, when early generation face-recognition software was installed. Since then, the technology has evolved and so has the money involved in surveillance. In 2012, contractor Total Recall Corp. outfitted our fair lady with FaceVACS-VideoScan software, which ravenously tracks all faces in real-time, pinpointing race, gender, ethnicity, age, watchlist matches and even “client behavior”, whatever the hell that means.
Kind of ironic, that a larger than life symbol of liberty is being used for arguably unconstitutional domestic surveillance.
Yup. The $245 billion dollar luxury goods industry will stop at nothing to extract your soul and sell it back to you. Five companies in Europe and the U.S. are currently using the EyeSee polystyrene frame mannequins, whose eyes are equipped with police grade face-recognition cameras. Italian mannequin maker Almax SpA supplies these bionic oddities, offering companies the holy grail of retail: ‘personalizing’ their sales offerings. So, next time you’re walking by a mannequin, remember: that unspeakably beautiful object could be watching you.
The next time you’re standing at a vending machine and start to feel embarrassed about your inability to decide between candy or chips, keep in mind that you’re being watched by a camera. And somewhere, people are probably laughing at you. George is gettin’ upset!
Everybody knows that Kinect, the motion sensing console featured in millions of family living rooms, has a camera. Of course it does, that’s how it senses your movements. But what if you found that not only is Kinect recording and storing your activity, it may also be recording and storing the conversations you have while you’re playing and even while it’s turned off? That’s right, Bif, you’ve let the Big Brother demonwolf right into your house.
Microsoft denies that Kinect records conversations, but then in the same sentence they brag about the device’s ability to read your heartbeat and recognize individual voices.
The company Immersive Labs has created software for digital billboards that allow them to actually watch your face and then tailor a specific ad based on your facial features. Next time you’re waiting to catch a subway and those glowing marquees reflect your sad face across the tracks, expect a Prozac advertisement to pop up. Or liquor.
Jell-O, Adidas and Kraft all use facial recognition software in supermarkets to help them craft more effective TV commercials. The creepiest part of this is the cameras are actually linked up to Facebook as well, so the company could couple their video surveillance with social media profiles for an even juicier data grab.
The Big Bang Theory
No, not the cosmic explosion that created all space, time, and matter–the TV show! You know, that quirky but hip, nerdy but chic sitcom that everyone loves. As of April of 2013, Verizon had applied to patent a new cable box that uses infrared cameras and microphones to track the activities of viewers during blocks of The Big Bang Theory. So if by any chance you find yourself sweating and swooning when Penny appears on screen, you may soon get some commercials for dating sites, or Girls Gone Wild.
The city of Seattle has got its eyes on you. Almost literally. A new apparatus that is capable of hi-tech surveillance (and more) will be installed at many of the major intersections in downtown Seattle. So what, all cities have surveillance, right? Well, rumor has it that there is a new technology going on here that involves triangulating our cell phones, so that we become rogue devices. Grunge is dead and buried–then again, grunge might have liked the attention.
Seems to us, companies and government agencies are spending an awful lot of time, money and resources figuring out how to monitor and data mine our every facial tic and fantasy, money and energy that could be spent bolstering terribly under-funded public services and creating a society whose entire economy isn’t dependent on mindless consumerism.