Your devices are sending out constant, wireless beacons to the world. Smartphones, fitness sensors, smart key fobs: They’re all broadcasting their presence to anyone with a radio antenna.
NewAer uses all that ambient data swimming around us to do something useful: Connect you with the retailers and restaurants you’re interested in.
For example, NewAer’s kiosk solution can detect when you approach it, call you by name, and offer you a personalized coupon — which it then delivers to your phone.
“We can use things like Wi-Fi to determine where you are in the store,” says NewAer founder Dave Mathews. We interviewed Mathews at the recent MobileBeat conference in San Francisco, where he debuted the company’s kiosk technology.
But even without your permission, NewAer’s technology can tell a few basic things about you. For instance, it can detect if you’re wearing a Fitbit, although it can’t pull your ID or activity data from it. But the fact that you’re a Fitbit wearer may be enough to infer that you’re a fitness fanatic, and offer you an appropriately-tailored offer, like a 20 percent discount on running shoes.
“All this data is ambient. It’s going through the air. It’s being broadcast every few seconds,” Mathews says.
“Because all of this data is around us, there’s nothing that can be done to shut it off.”
Mathews hopes that convenience will outweigh any discomfort you may feel about his sensors reading your digital aura. For instance, you could walk up to a restaurant and the maitre-d will get an automatic notification that you’re arriving. Or, you could walk by a store and your phone could notify you that there is a sale on for something you want to buy.
For that reason, Mathews thinks many of us will opt in to personalized notifications like this.
Some day, that might make walking into a store a lot more like the scene in Minority Report where Tom Cruise strolls through a mall, and each sign calls out his name: “Hey, John Anderton! You could sure use a Guinness right about now.”
Creepy, but also awfully convenient.
Watch the video interview with Mathews, below, for more.