3. Three tech innovations that are changing everything

Near field communication

The history of RFID technology begins in WWII-era espionage tactics, but for most people, it entered widespread use with Apple Pay in 2014 and Android Pay in 2015 in the form of NFC. The contactless protocol is frequently used in transit tickets and access cards as well because it is cheap to license, encryptable, reprogrammable, and can transmit 8192 bytes of data (about 1 page of text) all without wifi. It’s likely that NFC chips will start being used more in keyless entry systems and event ticketing, but eventually its superior data storage will supplant the woefully underwhelming QR code and perhaps even the UPC.

Everything is connected

The Internet of Things has the potential to drive a new industrial revolution: from thermostats to cars and entire power grids, networked systems are capable of making human life more efficient than ever. The massive amount of “Things” (the awkward term that’s been coined to describe when an analog object is connected to the internet) is capable of tracking and analyzing massive amounts of human activity. Whether said humans consider this an advancement toward a utopic society automated to perfection or instead toward the tyrannical surveillance of our most private moments, the full impact of the “IoT” is not yet clear.

Ad targeting

Choosing where to advertise is one of the most important decisions a brand can make. Targeted new media advertising ensures their ad dollars are well spent through tracking customers’ web activity, using search engine terms for relevance, and analyzing page content for contextual ad placement. Brands benefit from more efficient targeting, while consumers have the opportunity to see ads that are more relevant to their interests. While that sounds like a win-win, the downside is that tracking consumers’ browsing activity with cookies and mining their social profiles for data can be a detriment to users’ privacy, and many of them don’t know or understand the risks. The recent outrage over some users’ discovery of how Unroll.me sells their anonymized data proves that web tracking and targeting are ubiquitous yet often despised and misunderstood, so I expect this conversation to continue in the future.