The Problematic Canvas Fingerprinting, A New Tracking Technology

Another day, another new technology to track people on the internet. Forbes reports that a new tracking technology called Canvas Fingerprinting that can tracks internet surfers’ web behaviors even with anti-tracking tools or strict privacy settings in place.

Here’s how it works. By employing Canvas Fingerprinting, websites can secretively send your web browser a request to generate a hidden image consisting of some text, and then assigns a “fingerprint” for each computer based on the image produced. Because of the slight setting variations in font, browser, or graphic rendering between each end device, the generated fingerprint would be unique and therefore be employed for tracking. Different websites utilizing this same tracking system can track a user from site to site, with currently no way for users to opt-out.

As with the recent Facebook experiment debacle, we here at the IPG Media Lab highly value privacy and strictly follow the rule of “informed consent first” in our conduct. By design, Canvas Fingerprinting is inherently sneaky and secretive, and therefore problematic without proper legislation.

This Glowing Sensor Can Track And Enhance Your Sleep

There have been several sleep-enhancing trackers and apps on the market, but few have been this sleek and unobtrusive. Invented by 22 year-old James Proud and currently on Kickstarter, Sense is an elegantly designed orb-shaped sensor that sits on your nightstand and monitors every environmental factor—temperature, light, sound, humidity, and even particles in the air—in your bedroom. It also comes with a clip-on motion sensor that you can attach to your pillowcase to track your sleep pattern throughout the night. All data gathered will be synced via Bluetooth to a corresponding app to give a detailed analysis about your slumber. As with many projects on Kickstarter, this idea looks great, but the execution could be off. Nevertheless, this connected device points to an inevitable future home life powered by the internet of things.

Update: Within 12 hours of its launch on Kickstarter, the Sense has crushed its original 100,000 goal with a near-doubled amount pledged.

Update #2: The campaign concluded with over $2,400,000 raised, almost 25 times of its original pledge goal.

More Reality TV To Incorporate Activity Tracker FitBit

CBS is integrating Fitbit Flex activity trackers into this season of “Big Brother,” letting viewers track the contestants’ indoor movement and other physical data. Although this is the first time a wearable technology will be incorporated into prime-time TV, several other reality shows, as suggested by the source, also seem eager to jump on the tracking bandwagon as well (curiously absent from the list, however, is CBS’s Emmy-winning global traveling competition show The Amazing Race). The jury is still out on whether, or rather, how fast would our voyeuristic demand of documenting surveillance in reality entertainment overflow into our personal daily life. Nonetheless, reality TV might just very well become the foreground for normalizing consumer wearable tech.

Foursquare’s Passive Tracking

Foursquare will now passively track your location without the need to “check-in,” using the new iOS 7 Refresh capabilities. The development powers Foursquare’s passive notifications which surfaces venue recommendations based on your full location history. The development increases Foursquare location data dramatically. Even the most active Foursquare users wouldn’t come close to sharing 10% of the actual locations they visited.

From an advertising angle, the passive tracking could provide more comprehensive ‘store visit’ data for ROI. Foursquare could be as attractive an analytics platform as a media play as brands could see consumer affinities, displaying which businesses Walmart shoppers also visit, for instance.  For the time being, Foursquare is courting advertisers, sharing the updates but have not made any indication that they would integrate these features into their ad products. At least for the time being.

Twitter Launches Retargeting

Twitter has entered the digital ad sphere full-force in 2013, launching its Amplify TV platform, and now they’ve launched cookies-based retargeting for brands, allowing them to use their e-mail lists and cookie IDs to serve users applicable ads.  This is standard practice for other online services, but has come with some concerns over privacy.  Twitter’s senior director of product, Kevin Weil, assures the public that all information is non-identifiable and there will be the option to opt-out of the promotions within Twitter’s interface, or via Do Not Track.

Twitter Adds Embed Tracking To Tweets

In an effort to be a more engaging service, Twitter has been working to make Tweets more interactive. Among hundreds of small changes to the service is the addition of links indicating where any given Tweet is embedded on the web.  The advantages of this addition are several, providing context for a Tweet’s viral trajectory, and giving sponsors another opportunity to appear with popular content.

Jawbone Up To Connect With Other Apps

With so many wearable devices, it can be hard to keep up which is why Jawbone is integrating with other apps to become the centralized quantified self platform. Leveraging their API, Jawbone could integrate with other services like Nike+ or Withings to begin aggregating every piece of health data imaginable.  The result would create an incredibly powerful health tool that could produce a wealth of content and experiences brands could be a part of.

All Dogs In England To Be Microchipped By 2016

The British government is requiring that all dogs be microchipped by 2016 for identification purposes. The bold initiative will track dogs in an effort to reduce the number of abandoned animals. Utilizing RFID chips, there could be a wealth of interesting data produced in terms of the dogs behavior and movements if the government would ever expose it. Now just imagine if we could do the same with humans. It could be the next generation of Fuelband or Fitbit.