While the Consumer Electronics Show—held annually in Las Vegas—traditionally brings wonder and anticipation, this year's edition produced more than its share of caution as more and more companies revealed that they expect consumers to voluntarily give up personal information while using the latest gadgets.
"This could be creepy to some of us because it is making use of data in a way that has not been done before," said data consultant Thomas Coughlin of Coughlin Associates.
Several technology companies unveiled what they called “smart televisions” at this year’s show. The TVs would use devices like eyes trackers and voice recognition software to figure out who was watching and what that individual would like to watch.
"Increasingly, TVs will know who is watching them, and I expect advertisers will know shortly thereafter. This should result in shows and commercials you like more and even better products, but far less privacy," Rob Enderle, an analyst and consultant with Enderle Group, told the Sydney Morning Herald.
For more active technophiles, health gadget company Fitbit unveiled its fitness monitoring bracelet. Called “Flex,” the device can track steps, distance, calories and how many minutes the user has been active. It also tracks how long the user has been sleeping and details how much the user has been moving in his or her sleep. The website that works in tandem with the Fitbit bracelet will also track user weight goals, calories consumed and the fitness progress of friends.
Additionally, forks with accelerometers will tell a user how quickly they're eating, while sharing the results with friends on data logs.
An estimated 350 million IP-addressable devices will ship worldwide this year. Any device with an IP address makes the physical location of its user traceable.