It’s always nice to have a four-day break, but it did make for a very busy week leading into the holidays. That didn’t stop us from following the latest tech news. Here are some of the articles that got us talking.
It’s likely you’ve heard that Game of Thrones returned to our screens this month. We’ve certainly been discussing it at Gloo HQ—mainly how we’re avoiding any spoilers. Among all the brands jumping on this cultural phenomenon to advertise their products, one caught our eye. Ericsson have used this popular TV show to help explain the benefits of 5G.
The examples are a little basic—of course phoning someone is quicker than sending a raven. But let’s be honest, if we took the idea further and all the characters had 5G and mobiles, there wouldn’t even be a battle for the Iron Throne—everyone would be inside watching Netflix or sharing conspiracy theories about the royal family’s lineage on Reddit. These issues aside, it’s a nice idea to try and explain what can seem a more abstract technology through a subject many people are more familiar with.
We first wrote about cows being fitted with IoT devices several years ago. Now it seems that our bovine neighbours are going to get 5G before us. Farmers are fitting cows with smart collars that work alongside robotic milking systems, connected using 5G. When a cow feels ready for milking, it will approach the machine’s gates, the collar will be recognised, and the robotic arms will precisely latch onto the cow’s teats for milking.
We’ve written a lot about 5G, and the benefits it’s going to bring, but we’re not convinced this is the best example to showcase it. 5G’s near-zero latency mean that data can be transmitted much more quickly than through traditional broadband connections—but that’s no good if you’re not in a 5G area. Many rural farmers still don’t have 4G available to them, so it seems unlikely they’re about to get 5G before the rest of us. While this is a fun example and shows the varied uses of new technology, it’s unlikely to set the standard for the future of connectivity.
Tracking employees isn’t new—work study was a big thing in the 70s and beyond. But technology is opening up all kinds of new possibilities. Some employers are tracking staff movements with chips in security passes. The New York Times recently showed how easy, and cheap, it is to build a face-recognition system—maybe that camera in reception isn’t just about security. And AI is enabling employers to use employee’s “digital exhaust” to monitor the productivity of staff practically invisibly—that’s not just by tracking your social media habits, some employers are even monitoring heart rates and sleep patterns.
One big difference with the 70s is that it’s no longer just blue-collar workers that are subject to observation. We were split at Gloo HQ about how we’d feel about being subject to this level of surveillance. But the BBC article suggests many people aren’t averse to their employers tracking them, provided it’s transparent what data is being tracked and how it will be used. Maybe they’ve just grown used to the idea of being tracked—with CCTV on every corner and Google and Facebook tracking our digital footprints. Has all this tracking just become business as usual?
Posted by John on 23 April 2019