The 2015 Consumer Electronics Show, January 6-9, Las Vegas, is yet again showing us the future of technology. 2014's gadgets move over, there is flashier tech in town. This year, apparently, if you are not wearing whatever technology you own it is officially obsolete.
Well perhaps not quite. The biggest brands in the tech world are, however, in attendance demonstrating pioneering hardware and software that will enter into mainstream consciousness in the years to come. Eager tech-heads rejoice – your Christmas lists for this year are already taken care of and it's only January.
The next revolution in tech is the name of the game, and what courts headlines, with the R&D boffins displaying their latest shiny creations on the show floor designed to redefine 'bleeding edge'. Think a technological equivalent of its host city – all wonderment and wow factor.
That makes the dose of data protection reality served up at the show by the US Federal Trade Commission chair, Edith Ramirez, in her address on 'Privacy and the Internet of Things: Navigating Policy Issues' on Tuesday, a rather refreshing one.
Ms Ramirez discussed the threat to privacy that our smart gadgets present, which if left unchecked, could produce a 'deeply personal and startlingly complete picture' of an individual. Connected sensors in cars, homes and on, and perhaps in, people's bodies themselves could potentially build a picture of a person's health, habits, credit history, family, friends that might just make the most liberal of gadget users nervous.
Imagine TV viewing habits or junk food consumption, until now the sole preserve of you, your conscience and the particular service provider(s) you frequent, being available to current or future employers, education establishments and other organisations. Cue advertisements or offers of similar junk food, and 'judging book by cover' clichés being rewritten for a digital age. Something like 'don't judge a person by their data'. Has an already familiar ring to it.
One wonders if the term 'Selfie' also needs a refresh for 2015. It seems ironically apt to describe the intimately 'personal and startlingly complete picture' that connected devices are now building of their users. Perhaps.
On a more serious note, whilst exhibitors at CES are there to push the envelope, and rightly so, it is left for others to be pragmatic in assessing the impact of the notoriously relentless pace at which technology evolves on the wider population. With that in mind, the FTC Chair urged a balanced approach to innovation that is matched with appropriate investment in privacy and security.
Details of the FTC Chair's speech can be found here.