Copywriter, technical writer, translator (FR>EN, ES>EN, IT>EN), journalist

Are you discoverable?

Imagine yourself in the following clip from the 2002 science-fiction movie Minority Report. Specifically, imagine your name is John Anderton:

Advertising technology reads the protagonist’s retinas, which are as unique to him as his fingerprints, and then tailors ads with his name as he strides through a shopping center.

We, of course, would never accept such invasions of our privacy. Or would we?

Some retailers are betting that we would. Lawyers Weekly Magazine recently published an article by James Kosa that discusses proximity marketing, in which retailers would ping your smartphone using its BlueTooth radio. Here’s a brief explanation:

Mac’s Convenience Stores Inc., for one, recently announced plans to send electronic advertisements to people who happen to be near its stores. The company teamed with service provider iSIGN Media Corp. to send the messages via Bluetooth technology, which is available on most smartphones.

Would you rather not get digital coupons beamed at you each time you walk through a mall? You can turn off Bluetooth to keep your phone less discoverable, but doing so removes the convenience of things like wireless headsets.

I suspect phone manufacturers may one day implement new Bluetooth (or other) wireless standards to help smartphone and tablet owners avoid unwanted ads. Meanwhile, all of us smartphone owners seem one step closer to becoming John Anderton.

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