08.01.19

Scout - become transparent before we see through you

Written By Mike Shorter and Leonardo Amico
3 mins read

Data shows us that personalisation works.
The ways and means to personalise are getting stronger.
But at what cost?

Data collection, facial recognition, mood sensors and mind readers.
Companies are using these methods and in turn pushing the limits of data privacy.

Our prediction is, brands which don’t offer transparency will soon be exposed and held to account by consumers. And, rather than a luxury, brand transparency will be standard.

To show how close that day is, we looked at the world of consumer electronics – particularly smart home devices.

Here manufacturers sell personal data to third parties. They decode our most private routines and preferences for profit.

Manufacturers like Samsung, whose Smart TV sent user data to about 700 different recipients every 15 minutes.

Or the HP printer which transmits the filename and username of every document in un-encrypted form.

These are not isolated cases. Nor are these obscure gadgets. Everyday products like lightbulbs are now made with internet connectivity.

We asked ourselves how we shift the power back to the people? We asked ourselves how we shift the power back to the people? How could we take steps towards coveillance?
Then we made Scout.

Scout is a router-like device which allows consumers to monitor what connected devices are doing with their data in real-time. And to follow any odd behaviour with a legal request for an explanation.

What would you do if through Scout you realised that your connected toothbrush was sharing your brushing habits? Does the convenience of tracking your oral hygiene techniques outweigh the cost of being monitored by, for instance, dental insurance companies?

Scout applies the same technology brands use to deceive consumers to move us closer to a culture of transparency. Not as a proof of concept. Or to create conflict. But to show that the tide is turning. And with it will come greater opportunities for brands to understand consumers, to grow closer together, and yes – to profit.

Scout is a result of The Future Agency project. We imagined where the world is heading and what it could look like in twenty years. Now we’re taking steps to help brands move toward the good, and steer clear of the bad. Find out more here.

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