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Company Designs "Big Brother Chip" 166

Posted by samzenpus
from the me-and-my-shadow dept.
Taco Cowboy writes "Here comes a chip that can pinpoint you in-door and out, it can even tell others on which floor of a building you are located. It's the Broadcom 4752 chip. It takes signals from global navigation satellites, cell phone towers, and Wi-Fi hot spots, coupled with input from gyroscopes, accelerometers, step counters, and altimeters The company calls abilities like this 'ubiquitous navigation,' and the idea is that it will enable a new kind of e-commerce predicated on the fact that shopkeepers will know the moment you walk by their front door, or when you are looking at a particular product, and can offer you coupons at that instant."
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Company Designs "Big Brother Chip"

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  • Potato, potato (Score:5, Insightful)

    by samazon (2601193) on Monday April 09, 2012 @08:55AM (#39617897)
    When you say "coupons" I hear "pushy advertisements."
    • by Anonymous Coward

      What's this double potato thing?

      Anyway if you're having trouble with your hearing, best to see an otologist.

    • Yeah. They are going to spend a fortune to give everyone a percentage point or two off an item. Why not save the money and JUST LOWER THE PRICE OF THE ITEM.

      This screams, "let's drive our last remaining customers to Amazon.com."

      Who comes up with this crap?

      • Re:Potato, potato (Score:4, Insightful)

        by s0nicfreak (615390) on Monday April 09, 2012 @10:05AM (#39618403) Homepage Journal
        Many reasons, including but not limited to: If you like the product, you may buy another when you don't have a coupon. You may recommend it to friends, who may buy it without the coupon. Many people think they are too cool to use coupons, and will purposely forgo the coupons.
      • ..... spam works! I know, I know, but it always has and it always will.
      • by gtall (79522)

        Business School Product come up with this crap. Think about it, they have nothing to do all day except dream up new ways to impress their bosses, so they try to outdo each other with "new and innovative" ways of driving catt...customers to spend.

        And Ron Paul isn't the hope of anyone unless you wish to send the U.S. back to the 1930s.

    • by daem0n1x (748565)

      I don't need anything, anyway, and if I did I don't have money. They can stuff their coupons up their asses.

      Why is so much money spent in shit like this? I can think of many uses for these chips that would make people's life better. How come the first thing that comes up is targeted advertising?

      • by Dishevel (1105119)

        The money is being spent because it is profitable to spend it.
        These companies are not out there trowing their money away. They are investing.
        Just because you would hate it and see through the shiny coupon to the advertisement and rebel does not mean that most people will.
        Most people are fucking cattle. Cattle are profitable.Coupon! Must spend money.

        • by Loughla (2531696)

          My favorite phrase to hear after a co-worker, family member (or even once my wife) goes shopping, "I had to buy it, I saved sooooo much money on it," or, "I had to spend $x to save $x. But who can pass that up? Look at how much I saved!!!"

          You do realize that a better way to save money is to not spend it in the first place, right? People that purchase an item only because of the 'deal' they get on it are cattle. People that shop smart and look for coupons/deals/discounts on something they need anyway are sma

          • You do realize that a better way to save money is to not spend it in the first place, right?

            Do you realize that every Keynesian economist that read that is having a heart-attack now? Shame on you!

            • by daem0n1x (748565)

              You're a troll.

              Spending money in useless shit won't do anything for the economy. Actually, it does worse since it increases debt and also feeds parasites, making them stronger.

              Broken Window Fallacy [wikipedia.org]

      • If you don't have money but have coupons, and do things right, you can get stuff for free.
      • by Scoth (879800)

        My wife's gotten into some couponing stuff, but fortunately she's pretty practical about it. In our travels, we've run into people who don't seem to understand that just because you have a coupon for something doesn't make it the best deal. They'd rather use the $1 off coupon than buy another brand that's $3 cheaper than the one they have a coupon for. The "coupon savings" number on their receipt is their high score and all they care about, even if the total cost is a little more.

        Coupons are probably the mo

        • by tlhIngan (30335)

          Coupons are probably the most effective form of advertising - give people an appearance of great savings and they're more likely to buy your brand and not a cheaper one. Give some of these people the ability to get instant coupons on things they're specifically looking at, and they'll eat it up. At least at first.

          Given the popularity of stuff like groupon and other paid-"coupon" (they're really more like short-lived gift cards) sites, they apparently work.

          And yes, they are advertising. Just like people like

  • ... with cellphones and NSA databases.

    CC.

  • but only if (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

    you have the chip on you - otherwise, piss off

    • It's only big brother if it's transmitting its location to the power that be or some company. Else it's just a very accurate GPS receiver
    • If we can make these chips mandatory to Jeovah Witnesses so we can predict when they are about to knock at our door, it would be a great life improvement.
  • by Jawnn (445279) on Monday April 09, 2012 @09:04AM (#39617955)
    The "one-stop-shopping" nature of the chip is chilling. Consider, Broadcom has seen enough of a market to warrant developing a sophisticated device, the stated purpose of which is to determine it's position and "phone home" with that information. Worse yet, it will also phone in all the personal details about you that it has access to, so that those "coupons" can be quickly crafted. If that's not scary enough, consider that also available to any given "shop keeper", is a list of all the other shops you've visited, and when. Still not bugged enough? Think about this technology in the hands of entities far more dangerous than merchants; law enforcement, for example.
    • by daktari (1983452)

      Think about this technology in the hands of entities far more dangerous than merchants; law enforcement, for example.

      More dangerous than merchants? Is that even possible?

      Looks like another example of technology catching up with our greed.

    • The "one-stop-shopping" nature of the chip is chilling. Consider, Broadcom has seen enough of a market to warrant developing a sophisticated device, the stated purpose of which is to determine it's position and "phone home" with that information. Worse yet, it will also phone in all the personal details about you that it has access to, so that those "coupons" can be quickly crafted. If that's not scary enough, consider that also available to any given "shop keeper", is a list of all the other shops you've visited, and when. Still not bugged enough? Think about this technology in the hands of entities far more dangerous than merchants; law enforcement, for example.

      And you'll even be stuck with the bills for calls/SMS/data as the phone reports your whereabouts which are then passed on to nearby merchants or watchful agencies. And perhaps also for the calls/SMS/data returned as so-called coupons or comforting security notifications ("wait there, an officer has been dispatched" or "you're not allowed to enter that movie theater").

    • by houghi (78078)

      Think about this technology in the hands of entities far more dangerous than merchants; law enforcement, for example.

      So which other entities where you talking about, because as far as I know merchants and law enforcement are the same side of a coin.

    • by AmiMoJo (196126) <mojo@@@world3...net> on Monday April 09, 2012 @10:18AM (#39618523) Homepage

      TFS is highly misleading. The chip doesn't "phone home" or give data to marketers. It is just an integration of existing phone tech to reduce cost and power consumption. Just like current phones any snooping will be software controlled by the vendor.

      • by Catbeller (118204)

        Your statement isn't even misleading. It's intentionally obtuse. Of course the chip doesn't phone home. It passes the tracking info to the phone itself, which of course can both log and transmit your trail to whomever has the power to ask for it. It's like saying a gun doesn't kill. Well, technically, a human has to pull the trigger (+4 Informative).
        I don't know why so many people try to obfuscate the obvious. They, and that's a broad freaking THEY, want to track everyone. Except business owners (that'd be

        • by Jawnn (445279)
          What part of "...not exactly a new threat..." and "..the stated purpose of which..." did you miss? Obviously the chip isn't the entire solution, but it was crafted specifically to be core component in that "solution".
    • by skids (119237)

      Think about in less dangerous hands. Like the guy who currently has to walk around buildings painstakingly clicking his location on a map in order to complete a WiFi quality survey (no, the major vendors haven't couple a high quality GPS/DR system in yet.)

    • by gtall (79522)

      Yeah, you're right. Law enforcement gives out prizes to their officers knowing precisely where you've been for the last several years. It isn't like they don't have anything else to do. I have my own special policeguy who watches where I am on a monitor because he's just so interested in me. However, I think he periodically switches with the policeguy watching my neighbor just for a little variety.

    • Minority Report, here we come!

      But congrats to you for finding a fourth engine of tracking that I hadn't yet fully realized - sales. So then all that info is around "to make your shopping experience better". Yet you insightfully put the quotes around "shop keeper" because besides the actual shop keepers, there's tons of room for any two bit mall kiosk operator (I'm not even counting the total fakers) to apply for that info, then they have less obligation to keep up a good name than the big name shops. Then o

  • seems like a power hog with all the radios in it also there are building where the cell phone signal is poor and GPS may not work in them as well.

    • by mikael (484)

      Samsung Galaxy II does the GPS / Wi-Fi geolocation bit. Google put together a list of all the WiFi hotspots in the world and uses that to augment GPS. Makes me wonder whether these phones are calling home with all the WiFi zones they have detected.

  • !new (Score:5, Informative)

    by AmiMoJo (196126) <mojo@@@world3...net> on Monday April 09, 2012 @09:06AM (#39617969) Homepage

    Japanese mobile phones have had this for a while. Personal navigation apps that can guide you through underground stations and inside buildings using wifi and accelerometers when GPS is unavailable.

    • by Bigby (659157)

      Software or Hardware? This is about taking the multiple chips and software tying them together, and putting it, and logic, on one hardware device. Nothing new. Just consolidation and less energy consumption.

  • by DigiShaman (671371) on Monday April 09, 2012 @09:07AM (#39617977) Homepage

    Growing up in the 80s, living through the boom times of the 90s, and looking back today. What I used to think was was a path to freedom and salvation of the intellectual variety, I now see as our oppression. Slavery of a new type. Step by step we are sealing our own doom while at the same time handing over the keys to a new elite. The social consolidation is giving rise to the new aristocrats.

    I really hope I'm wrong.

    • No, you're right, but don't worry; Its the way of things. This situation can't be avoided. There are more smart people than dumb people, its why elite do their best to rise to the top, they know what happens when you don't.
      • *More dumb people than smart people. I haven't had my coffee yet.
      • by Opportunist (166417) on Monday April 09, 2012 @10:11AM (#39618459)

        Well, from my history book I learned what happens after they piss off the peasants too much.

        • If and only if those peasants aren't fooled into believing it's better that way. Take the poor people who vote for Republican candidates that want to end entitlement programs that poor people rely on to help them in this economy. No, please, take them.

          • If and only if those peasants aren't fooled into believing it's better that way. Take the poor people who vote for Republican candidates that want to end entitlement programs that poor people rely on to help them in this economy. No, please, take them.

            That even many poor people hold such views isn't surprising. To quote Karl Marx on the subject:

            The ideas of the ruling class are in every epoch the ruling ideas, i.e. the class which is the ruling material force of society, is at the same time its ruling intellectual force. The class which has the means of material production at its disposal, has control at the same time over the means of mental production, so that thereby, generally speaking, the ideas of those who lack the means of mental production are subject to it. The ruling ideas are nothing more than the ideal expression of the dominant material relationships, the dominant material relationships grasped as ideas.

            Before a revolution begins, revolutionaries are always a minority, for the reason Marx laid out. That hasn't stopped revolutions from happening in the past, and it won't stop them in the future. Revolutionaries just need to keep in mind that they have to adapt their strategy and expectations to the conditions surrounding them.

      • We've seen the elite in charge recently.

        They are not as you describe.
    • by MrKaos (858439)

      Growing up in the 80s, living through the boom times of the 90s, and looking back today. What I used to think was was a path to freedom and salvation of the intellectual variety, I now see as our oppression. Slavery of a new type. Step by step we are sealing our own doom while at the same time handing over the keys to a new elite. The social consolidation is giving rise to the new aristocrats.

      I really hope I'm wrong.

      Technology has always been a gift to humanity from humanity. It can be used to free us or enslave us, it all depends on who is in control of the technology.

      • by arth1 (260657)

        Technology has always been a gift to humanity from humanity. It can be used to free us or enslave us, it all depends on who is in control of the technology.

        When is humanity in charge of the technology, as opposed to the elite and their bourgeois followers?

        • by MrKaos (858439)

          Technology has always been a gift to humanity from humanity. It can be used to free us or enslave us, it all depends on who is in control of the technology.

          When is humanity in charge of the technology, as opposed to the elite and their bourgeois followers?

          At the inception of the technology and the laws created to govern it. Once seized it has to be held onto, which takes repeated effort by the populace. A recent example is cybercrime laws governing the use of security tools in Australia. The first wave of government laws were rejected, some ten years later they passed.

    • Its a new location chip that is optional and doesnt exactly tell everyone else where you are. Did GPS phone home? Was it "sealing our doom and handing the keys over to a new elite"?

      Seriously, what does this chip have to do with what youre talking about?

      • by pla (258480)
        Did GPS phone home? Was it "sealing our doom and handing the keys over to a new elite"?

        Um, yes, actually - Subpoenaing cell phone records (for the few providers that don't just hand them over to any moron that asks) has become standard practice for legal cases ranging from murder to plain ol' divorce, and Zeus help you if you just happen to have taken a scenic route on the "wrong" day.


        Seriously, what does this chip have to do with what youre talking about?

        GPS can only reliably track you in the open
      • by mikael (484)

        You don't need GPS in a mobile phone to determine location. Cellphone towers are arranged in a hexagonal pattefn. That way, the signal strength from the nearest tower can determine location to a few dozen meters.

        Since cell-phone towers dont move around, this gves the cell phone company the ability to track your location.

  • by mug funky (910186) on Monday April 09, 2012 @09:11AM (#39617993)

    wet a towel and wrap it round your head.

    then get your ass to Mars.

  • by retroworks (652802) on Monday April 09, 2012 @09:11AM (#39617995) Homepage Journal
    My wife accidentally ran my new passport with its RFID tag through the washing machine. I still get through customs. The existence of the chips does not make them infallible.
    • by Jawnn (445279)

      My wife accidentally ran my new passport with its RFID tag through the washing machine. I still get through customs. The existence of the chips does not make them infallible.

      Have her accidentally run it through the microwave for a few seconds. I believe you'll find more satisfactory results. Or not..., depends on what "satisfies" you.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    for using my data communications processing service ?
    ii have costs, electricity, device wear and tear, commercial reading services ?

    you thought i was just giving you that data for free ? think again chump

  • This is an improved GPS chip, allowing a phone to pinpoint its location even when GPS is spotty.
    Shopkeepers won't get the data, even if the phone companies would be allowed to sell location data cause there is no ROI: not enough people will have such a chip to even make it worthwhile. Neither do they need data that detailed. As some other poster already wrote: they'd rather know how much money the customer has, not where he is right now. Both, the have not and the billionaire can watch the same Mercedes 600

    • by Sarten-X (1102295)

      Skimming TFA, I see nothing about surveillance, or reporting someone's location back to any Big Brother entity. It talks about a nice new chip that can use many different resources including GPS, WiFi SSIDs, Bluetooth beacons, and dead reckoning to accurately determine location in adverse circumstances. The only reference to the retail industry at all is this:

      "The use case [for Bluetooth beacons] might be malls," says Pomerantz. "It would be a good investment for a mall to put up a deployment—perhaps put them up every 100 yards, and then unlock the ability for people walking around mall to get very precise couponing information."

      So I can walk around a mall, and my phone will tell me that the restaurant I just passed is having a special. Wow. I'm terrified by the implications h

      • by kenh (9056)

        And if every shop participates, your "device" will never stop vibrating, and you will soon turn it off - information overload. I pass by many more stores than I stop in, and no discount imaginable would suffice to get me into Yankee Candles or Talbots...

  • by Karmashock (2415832) on Monday April 09, 2012 @09:21AM (#39618069)

    They're saying it would be great for merchants to know where you are but I'd actually have to carry it and keep it charged for it to work. So it has to offer me a benefit and instant coupons or getting bombarded by ads isn't a good selling point.

    A better application for this would be urban GPS. A big problem with current GPS is that it doesn't work in dense urban cities. Try to use GPS in New York... it's almost useless. First off, you're underground half the time. Second, even when you're above ground you tend to be amongst big buildings that obscure the sky. However, I get great cellphone reception pretty much anywhere in New York and wifi hotspots are pretty ubiquitous even if they're mostly locked. If your mobile navigation could make use of other static radio signals for navigation then GPS would work deep within the urban jungle. And THAT is valuable.

    The pitch of "oh merchants can predict your location" is asinine. if you wanted to sell the tracking feature then I suppose this would work for tracking boxes. After all, existing tracking technology that relies on GPS won't work in warehouses, underground, or even inside of industrial shipping containers. But something that could triangulate cell towers should work just about damn near anywhere there is "civilization"...

    All and all, a neat little chip and I wish it well. Whoever is coming up with the applications for it needs to be smacked around a little with a frozen trout.

    • by Jawnn (445279)

      They're saying it would be great for merchants to know where you are but I'd actually have to carry it and keep it charged for it to work.

      Just like your mobile phone... Right?

    • Indeed.

      If the merchants were on the ball they would have real people wandering around their stores helping customers. Then they wouldn't need technology to bombard us with ads. If a sales person points out a special to me, or brings another product to my attention, I won't mind.

      I did a lot of work a few years ago with assisted GPS [qualcomm.com], that used both GPS and the cellphone network to determine location. I did one test where I was driving around a parkade in downtown Seattle. The assisted cellphone fixes were

  • by concealment (2447304) on Monday April 09, 2012 @09:30AM (#39618121) Homepage Journal

    I don't have a reasonable expectation of privacy walking down the street. I have it in my home, or another person's home if I trust that person. Expecting that stores and service providers will give me this same courtesy is foolishness. It also seems that if I turn off my cell phone and laptop, I'll be invisible to this magic chip as well. Only the shadow knows.

    • I don't have a reasonable expectation of privacy walking down the street.

      You do, however, have the reasonable expectation that strangers are not going to reach into your pockets and rifle through your personal effects.

      You also have a reasonable expectation that strangers are not going to follow you around and keep track of your every move. If they do, you can reasonably expect a LEO to at least question their behavior (especially if you are a minor and they are not).

      Sometimes I'm amazed at people's perception of privacy, and how they honestly believe it no longer exists the mo

  • Unless they're implanting this fucking chip in you, the big brother implication of this chip is pretty much bullshit.

    It has one damn good application - reliable navigation, indoors and out. Suppose you've just arrived in Montreal and don't know a thing about the place, but you want to hit up Schwartz's for the sandwich and a pickle that everyone's told you to try. Now your phone can direct you to the nearest subway station, direct you to the correct platform so you don't take the train in the wrong directio

  • I could see this working as it does in some films, but eventually, just like with anything else, the "Ooh shiny!" factor wears off, and people will tune them (ads, discount offers, etc) out the same way we do regular ads, rough language on TV (compared to what was allowed a few decades ago in the US), and so on. Not that it won't have an effect at all, but our passive filters will adapt.
  • by kenh (9056) on Monday April 09, 2012 @09:56AM (#39618299) Homepage Journal

    OK, so I've got a device in my pocket - a cellphone, call it a tablet, whatever - and as I walk through the mall it vibrates with special offers from each retailer I pass in front of - how long do I leave this "feature" enabled? Two, three stores? The fact that the device is "smart" and will deduce from my facebook status of "single" and that I'm male that I'm not interested in offers from Yankee Candle, Bed, Bath and Beyond or Victoria's Secret doesn't really help much...

    It will be the most disabled "feature" on personal devices, and will sink any product where the device is subsidised by the alerts.

    I see a great market in the "I've fallen and I can't get up" device market - concerned children will buy them for their elderly parents who are still living independently, and let's not forget the "where's my kid" market segment, but this location-based direct marketing is a dumb idea. period.

    • by gl4ss (559668)

      OK, so I've got a device in my pocket - a cellphone, call it a tablet, whatever - and as I walk through the mall it vibrates with special offers from each retailer I pass in front of - how long do I leave this "feature" enabled? Two, three stores? The fact that the device is "smart" and will deduce from my facebook status of "single" and that I'm male that I'm not interested in offers from Yankee Candle, Bed, Bath and Beyond or Victoria's Secret doesn't really help much...

      It will be the most disabled "feature" on personal devices, and will sink any product where the device is subsidised by the alerts.

      I see a great market in the "I've fallen and I can't get up" device market - concerned children will buy them for their elderly parents who are still living independently, and let's not forget the "where's my kid" market segment, but this location-based direct marketing is a dumb idea. period.

      how long? about a day.

      Bluetooth - bluetooth was the perfect technology for localized alarms and buzzes and .. well, SPAM. it was tried already.

    • by Bigby (659157)

      I think they would be wiser and only beep you when you walk into a store, stay in one general place for a while, and then leave without going to the register. You are then an engaged customer, seriously considering a purchase.

  • I'd rather them give me an app that scans barcodes and gives me the best deal / price. That way I can also receive their competitors coupons.
    Oh wait, that exists.

    No, I do NOT want EXTRA ways to be BOMBARDED EVERYWHERE I GO WITH UR CHITTY OVERPRICED MERCHANDISE.

    It has nothing to do with coupons to save you money, either. If they could be promised a way to advertise fake low prices to you instantly then they would raise the prices and the 'coupon' price would be regular price. They just want a new excuse to t

  • Why is it that everything has to be pitched as a new and better way to do advertising? Is it just because marketers have no imagination and all want to be the next Google, or is it that marketing has gotten so out of control that it wags the dog now? Maybe all the ad supported stuff on the Internet has allowed salesmen to finally take over the world.

  • Nifty but are we talking 10 meter accuracy? 10 meters could mean the difference between Hot Dog on a Stick and Sbarro.

  • and I really want one of these to mount to a name tag....

    and I am not the only one with these desires.

    • Serious question: Why?

      Is it some sort of Machiavellian thing? Is there an actual reason for it?
      • staff tracking? like around an amusement park, cruise ship, movie theater or a motel?

        if I can see staff members aren't sweeping out theater 5 each night after the middle show but hanging out tiwht the cute blonde in the office? yea.. that's valuable with this kind of tracking...

        • I guess that makes sense, though I would think video cameras (which are already ubitquitous) would perform the same function, and already be in place.

          Also, for some reason, I initially pictured you working at EA or Sony.
    • by SEWilco (27983)

      and I really want one of these to mount to a name tag....

      and I am not the only one with these desires.

      Starfleet badge.

  • As I posted only weeks ago, this means that even if you turn off your phone, or the GPS tracking, or even walk under a radio shield of some kind, the phone will extrapolate where you are based on your last verified map-pin by using solid state gyroscope, clock, and 3-axis accelerometer. The only need for radio will be to correct inevitable errors.
    Turning off the bloody phone, or "turning off the GPS", or putting it in a steel box, or perhaps even removing the user-accessible battery (there'll be a backup, guaranteed) won't stop it from tracking you. Sales my tired soul, this is DHS tracking.

    • Unfortunately for us, and very fortunately for our tracking overlords, the user accessible battery is dangerously close to becoming a sabre toothed tiger.
      I am almost certain that they will be completely extinct in phones with this chip.

      Welcome to the future, where more tech that you own is used against you than is working for you.

  • So if you ever find the phone of a politician (or another worker for the state security organs) that is equipped with this chip, be sure to leave it in the nearest adult book store.

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