Monday, September 27, 2021

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Tech Talk

Tech that crosses the line


In today’s world, technology is inescapable. When we’re not spending our working hours staring at computer screens, our eyes are fixed on TVs, tablets and the ubiquitous smartphone. This environment is the reason so many companies want a piece of the action. It seems every business wants to build an application, operating system and, most prevalent, proprietary phones.

After Apple reset the industry with the iPhone, every tech company — including Google, Microsoft, Samsung and the better-late-than-never Amazon — unveiled its own smartphone. Building a company-branded phone allows organizations ground floor access to consumer behavior and purchase patterns, and as the world’s biggest online retailer, no one wants this data more than Amazon, who introduced its first smartphone, the Fire, last month. Of course, to enter the Android- and Apple-dominated marketplace, it needed a killer feature. Amazon’s must-have? “Firefly.”

Sold as a cross between Shazam and a barcode scanner, Firefly allows a user to scan or sample any real-world good and instantly buy it on Amazon. Say you’re in Best Buy and hear a song you like. Just scan it and download from Amazon. Like that 56-inch TV? Scan the barcode and hit Amazon. Sounds simple enough, but Firefly could also quickly become something brick-and-mortar retailers start a crusade over. Opening a store that simply serves as a dressing room for Amazon is every business owner’s nightmare.

Amazon’s Firefly is just one example of recent tech innovations that are stirring up unrest. Google Glass has movie theaters, restaurants, banks, prisons and more banning the surreptitious wearable. Consumer helicopter drones have privacy advocates lobbying the government and FAA over unlawful surveillance. Finally, Aereo’s online retransmission of over-the-air television signals pushed the broadcast industry to sue the company into oblivion through a decision of the United States Supreme Court. That’s not even mentioning the NSA tracking our every digital move.

It seems with every step to a future laden with artificial intelligence and intuitive tech advances, there is an innovation backlash brewing. While there are no signs of a Luddite uprising, it seems the digital tomorrow. won’t come to pass without its fair share of setbacks. CV

Prep Iowa

Patrick Boberg is a central Iowa creative media specialist. Follow him on Twitter @PatBoBomb.

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