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Company Designs "Big Brother Chip" 166

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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  • 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 klingens ( 147173 ) on Monday April 09, 2012 @09:15AM (#39618035)

    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 600SL or Smart car with their phone in their pocket. Doesn't tell the shopowner who can actually afford the luxury car.

    What can happen is that the government subpoenas the telco location data for a subscribe just like they do now and that the better accuracy helps them to pinpoint the location of the subscribe better. This can be used for "OMG evil gubmint!" or it can be used, probably a lot less of course, for finding a missing person e.g. inside an avalanche.

    Of course without deliberately wrong sensationalism like this, the pagehits aren't coming.

  • 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 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 Anonymous Coward on Monday April 09, 2012 @10:09AM (#39618433)

    Your 6150 can't provide the FCC-mandated support for 911 geolocation so any US carrier detecting it in their network will ban its IMEI to avoid being fined by the FCC.

    Funny how they "can't" ban stolen phones to protect their customers but they can do it to protect their own pocketbook...

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