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Turnstyle touts “passive” data collection, Google Glass distracted driving, Bitcoin hits another milestone

A quick look at what’s making news around the world of technology

Jim Kerr is Alberta Venture's web editor. Get in touch with him at jkerr@albertaventure.com.

Jan 17, 2014

by Jim Kerr

Is your smartphone talking about you behind your back?

Not quite, but a Toronto-based company is definitely listening to what your device is saying. The Globe and Mail says Turnstyle Solutions uses passive technology, or the radio signals that are constantly broadcast by your phone, to collect information about what you’ve been up to. The company placed about 200 data-recording beacons around downtown Toronto, which lets Turnstyle’s retail customers know about people’s shopping habits. The company says the information it collects is all encrypted, but are you comfortable with the passive collection of your data possibly becoming the norm?

Canada’s privacy commissioner is taking Google to task over its handling of personal information within our borders. Chantal Bernier says Google broke the law by displaying web ads linked to people’s health history, which is deemed “sensitive personal information” by our government. The web giant has since apologized, though some may argue that just isn’t enough.

Speaking of Google, a California woman has broken new ground when it comes to distracted driving laws. The Bangor Daily News says technology entrepreneur Cecilia Abadie appears to be the first person cited by police for wearing Google Glass while driving. The device, which is basically a tiny computer on a pair of glasses, likely won’t be available to the public until later this year. Will Alberta police take the same stance as the California Highway Patrol? Time will tell.

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Forget distracted driving though – is your smartphone distracting you from getting enough sleep at night? Researchers at Harvard Medical School say specific wavelengths of light can deplete your brain of the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin. Bloomberg says the situation is so out of hand that insufficient sleep is now considered a public health epidemic in the U.S.

Bitcoin hit another potentially major milestone this week with the announcement that the NBA’s Sacramento Kings will start accepting the cyber currency. Fans can now use Bitcoin to buy items from the team store, and starting in March, they’ll even be able to purchase tickets to games. The Kings are the first professional sports team to accept Bitcoin – how long before that trend spreads?

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