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13 Technologies That Could Get a Little Scary

There’s something spooky in the air today and we’re here to add to that scariness! We’ve gathered thirteen different technologies and explain what makes them spooky. Read on if you dare:

1. iPhone Facial Recognition

Thanks to the launch of the iPhone X in November 2017, the general masses can finally experience facial recognition technology. What has been talked about and experienced by few will soon be mainstream and met with praise and criticism alike. The criticism has centered around the fact that some believe it’s possible to be used to create a surveillance state down the road that would track what users are doing on a daily basis becasue of the camera’s being in use constantly.

According to the iPhone X Face ID Whitepaper, Apple is taking careful safeguards to protect the privacy and security of your biometric data. How do they do this you ask? Face ID detects the direction of your gaze and uses “uses neural networks for matching and anti-spoofing so you can unlock your phone with a glance. Face ID automatically adapts to changes in your appearance.”

And what’s the probability of a random person being able to unlock your iPhone with just a glance? Approximately 1 in 1,000,000, which is safer considering the odds of 1 in 50,000 for another person being able to unlock your Touch ID.

2. Google Location History

Ever wondered what that cute little shop was when you stopped on your summer trip with your family? Or where you put your kayak in when you went on that epic journey with your buddy? Well, if you’ve turned on Google Location History on your smartphone now you can find out!

It’s an awesome feature that not only lets you track everywhere you’ve ever visited (along with how you travled there i.e. car, bike, etc. and the duration of your stay), but it provides advertisements and recommendations for you based on places you’ve visited with your signed-in device. Think that local coffee shop you visited or traffic conditions based on your commute to work.

What do you think, creepy or totally awesome? As Google pushes the the boundaries of Artificial Intelligence, technology like this is only going to get better and better, providing us with even richer and more specific offerings and suggestions.

3. Autonomous Vehicles

Self-driving cars are making a lot of headlines these days, but does anyone know what they are? Most people think of them as entirely self-driving to the point that we could take a nap or work during a commute to the office, but we’re not quite to that point yet. As of right now, companies are testing how far the cars can drive without a “disengagment” which is where the driver in the vehicle needs to take over and manually correct the vehicle.

So where does the technology for self-driving cars stand? Currently, there are 11 automakers in the self-driving car game and who's leading the way?

Google, or Waymo as the company’s technical name now that it is spinning out to become its own company, logged the highest number of total miles on public roads. “Waymo vehicles drove nearly 636,000 miles on public roads in 2016, a 49% increase from the previous year. And yet, the number of “disengagements” fell nearly 64% from 341 in 2015 to 124 last year."

And because Waymo tests it’s vehicles in more complex urban settings where there are more variables to navigate, they can create hundreds (and sometimes thousands) of scenarios in simulation to better improve the engagement and AI of its cars.

4. Chatbots

We communicate every day at work through interactions with multiple technologies and systems that ask us to click, swipe and select the option we’re looking for. The best of these systems provide amazing UX interactions that engage users from the get-go.

Chatbots are taking these interactions and communication to the next level. Built entirely around dialogue, Chatbots are completely customizing a user's experience and tailoring it to fit their needs exactly. Instead of searching through entire systems or the web, just ask a bot what you need to know and let them get search it for you!

How does a bot mimic a person and know how to answer your questions? It’s all done through machine processing and natural language processing (NLP). It works off of pre-set data and then relies on algorithms and artificial neural networks. Want to learn more? Check out this article by

Chatbot Magazine that breaks it all down.

5. Alexa

Alexa, named for the ancient library of Alexandria, is Amazon’s latest smarthome offering. As the rise in these types of products continues to boom, you can’t help but hear all about Alexa all over the news.

Alexa is completely voice activated and all you need to say is a trigger word (i.e. Alexa)) anywhere within earshot and it can dim the lights, place Amazon orders (Prime members only) and make to-lists. While there are still quirks to be worked out. If you’re looking for handsfree voice control, Alexa is for you. Just remember… Alexa is always listening.

6. Nest

The most mainstream smart home technology, Nest isn’t the only smart thermostat on the market, but it is the most recognizable.

Programmable thermostats don’t save as much energy as they advertise that they do. Most people don’t even end up programming them because they are limited or too tricky to figure out.

But Nest is different. After a few days of you adjusting the temperatures, Nest learns when you make the adjusts and what you adjust it to. After that, it does it without your help. Now you don’t need to be home to control the temperature of your home. Or monitor what’s going on inside, thanks to their new suite of cameras.

7. August Home

August Home allows you to give keyless entry into your home to family and friends from anywehere with the push of a button in their app. No longer is there any need to worry about lost or copied keys. August will lock and unlock your houses as you come and go and allow you to let others come in without a key.

But would you let someone you don’t know at all come into your home? Well, someone you were expecting? That’s a new possibility with a preliminary service being tested by Walmart in which you place an order for items on Walmart.com. A Deliv driver then gets your items together when they’re ready, drives to your house and is then given a one time access code through your August Home lock and leave packages in your entryway and put any groceries away in your fridge. Now, you will be able to watch the whole interaction via cameras in your home, so you’re not left wondering what’s going on, but still, would you do it?

8. Amazon Drones

Prime Air is the much anticipated drone delivery system from Amazon. Not only did they make all of us fall in love with free two day shipping thanks to Amazon Prime, but Prime air would now allow you to receive those products you just order in a few short hours thanks to drone technology.

While not a mainstream offering just yet, we can expect some pretty exciting things to come out of the Prime Air project in the coming years.

Don’t worry, the sky won’t look like a scene from Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds...yet.

9. Robots

Palomar College in San Marcos, California has introduced a new little robot to help guide students around campus and emcee college events. Pepper the robot is one of less than a dozen robots in the United States today.

So far, Pepper’s job description entails greeting and guiding students around campus and emceeing events:

“Hi, what a good looking group of students,” the robot said at a campus demonstration Tuesday. “I’m Pepper, Palomar College’s humanoid robot. I represent the spirit of innovation, science, and curiosity at Palomar College and part of a new project that seeks to utilize the latest advances in technology, including artificial intelligence, to enhance the student experience.”

And to prove that the robot is completely down with college kids today, Pepper encourages students to take selfies with her. Would you take a selfie with a robot?

10. Social Media

Social media is not a new technology, in fact, it may be considered “old-school” by some with the advances we see with the rest of today’s technology. However, now that social media has been around for awhile, we’re beginning to see the affects it has had on our culture.

Sure it makes our lives more comfortable, but it also adds to our stress levels. We have access to far more information than we were ever meant to process. Not only that, but it’s has taken the “social” aspects out of our actual social lives. Now we can interact, chat and get updates on our friends lies without ever actually speaking to them or seeing them in the flesh. An article in

Thought Catalog says that “We are losing real-life interaction and replacing it by depending on robots to do it for us.” What do you think?

11. Injectable Technology

Currently, injectable technology has mainly been used for medical services and devices (think pacemakers and heart monitors), but the possibilities for other uses outside of medicine are growing and becoming more mainstream. Earlier this year a Swedish startup, Epicenter, started inserting microchips into employees. The chips themselves are no bigger than a grain of rice, but they allow employees at Epicenter to open doors, print documents and order smoothies all with the wave of a hand.

Now, the injections are wholly an opt-in program, but they have become so mainstream at Epicenter that the company hosts parties for those willing to get implanted. And the company recognizes that putting things into one's body is no small step, but the procedure and device is all biologically safe.

Naturally, concerns about privacy have a arisen, because it is easier to separate oneself from their devices such as tablets or smartphones, but not so much when it comes to microchips. It’s much easier to know when an employee is or isn’t at work with such technology. Not to mention, questions of where the data is stored and how it’s used later comes into question.

The real question is would you opt to get implanted with a microchip for such conveniences?

12. Virtual and Augmented Reality

Virtual reality and augmented reality have already taken the tech world by storm and integrated into other industries. There are so many possibilties and uses for integrating virtual reality and augmented reality into our daily lives. Think about how social media has introduced new dimensions as to how people communicate and share information with one another.

Now imagine the same thing happening with virtual and augmented reality in our daily lives. How might this technology overlay with what we are already doing on a day-to-day basis? While grocery shopping, going to work, coming home people would just have to look at you and know via your updates how you're feeling, what you're thinking, what you're up to.

If you have a teenager in the house (or are one at heart) you may have been witness to the Pokemon Go craze that happened Summer 2016. If so much hype can be create around an augmented reality game, what is its potential in other areas of our lives?

13. Algorithms

Algorithms are technically a step-by-step guide to solving a problem. In the article The Age of the Algorithm, they explain that algorithms are calculations that take into account historical data and predict future outcomes for a variety purposes. They are meant to be more objective and take out human error and bias from complex decision-making.

However, algorithms (whether intended or not) reflect the biases of its human designer. Cathy O’Neil, the author of Weapons of Math Destruction, sums up the creation of algorithms with the following metaphor about cooking dinner for her family using the ingredients in her kitchen as ‘data’:

“To be completely honest I curate that data because I don’t use [certain ingredients] … therefore imposing my agenda on this algorithm. And then I’m also defining success, right? I’m in charge of success. I define success to be if my kids eat vegetables at that meal …. My eight year old would define success to be like whether he got to eat Nutella.”

Algorithms are built with a definite end goal in mind, to bring some objectivity to human decisions that otherwise would be hard to make. The above metaphor goes to show just how different some perspectives are on what success looks like and how those biases are brought to the table when creating an algorithm. Where have you seen algorithm’s used in your life?

We’ve looked at everything from self-driving cars to facial recognition and injectable technology, are you spooked yet? Some of these technologies have been around for a while and aren’t necessarily new, but the advances they are developing and enabling are unique and may get spookier (or cooler!) as they advance and become available to the general public. We’ll let you decide!

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