In the last ten years, the U.S. economy has undergone a transformation, moving away from industry and manufacturing to a knowledge-based economy. Thanks to personal computers and the Internet, consumers have access to more information than ever before. New technology has also helped businesses better serve their customers, from “one-click” shopping to tracking inventory using RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) tags. Consumers benefit from the convenience of being able to do business online and from the increasing flexibility in the storage and access of data. However, these same advances in technology expose consumers’ personal information to greater security risks, and coming advances in sensor networks may raise new privacy concerns. During the hearings we examined both the risks and benefits increased computing power creates for consumers.
This topic was considered during the following panels:
Benefits to Consumers of Living in an Instant Information Culture
Computing Power and How it Will be Used in the Marketplace of the Next Tech-ade
RFID Technology in the Next Tech-ade
Changes in Payment Devices and Systems
See the Tech-ade Agenda for more information on these panels and for links to the panelists’ presentations.
- Data mining: In the broadest terms, data mining involves the use of various computational techniques to search through large databases in order to identify patterns. Businesses often use data mining processes to analyze consumer behavior. For example, businesses may try to identify consumers’ shopping preferences by collecting and sorting through information about their activities online.
- RFID: Radio Frequency Identification (“RFID”) refers to a method of transmitting and storing identifying information using radio waves that does not require physical contact, or even a line of sight, between the chip containing the information and the scanner that reads it. RFID technology has applications in a broad range of industries, including retail, healthcare, and transportation.
For more information, check out:
Anticipating the Tech-ade Hearings: What is RFID?, October 30, 2006
- Wireless sensor networks: These are computer networks created by distributing a series of sensing devices in a particular location that function together to monitor conditions such as movement, temperature, and sound. Sensor networks can be used to monitor the environment, individuals’ health, and various systems and conditions in the home.
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