10 Technologies That Invade Your Privacy in Unique Ways


Modern technology has become more personal and a bit intrusive in our lives. Spending a few hours away from a smart device — not to mention TopTenz — is pretty hard for people. For better or worse, scientists are looking at your addiction and saying, “Hmm, we can top that.”

10. Intelligent Glasses Translate Foreign Text


NTT Docomo (the AT&T of Japan) unveiled a pair of glasses which allow the wearer to read and translate foreign text in under five seconds. The device is reminiscent of a classic sci-fi universal translator, but for the eyes. According to the carrier, the glasses employ character recognition technology and are primarily aimed at users who travel abroad. Upon looking at a foreign language text, the glasses display a translation overlay to help translate the text to the language of your choice. In addition, you can also use these glasses to turn any flat surface  into a touchscreen, manipulating a virtual image visible only to yourself while looking like a bit of a knob in public. On the slightly creepier side the glasses can also call up the contact details of anyone who is in view, making stalking much more convenient for those of us who engage in that particular hobby.

9. Contact Lenses Detect Blood Sugar


As Google Glass gains attention by being disliked by federal agents and traffic cops, Google continues to attempt to dominate the literal view, albeit in a more altruistic manner, with new contact lenses. These lenses are targeted towards diabetics who have to go through the inconvenience of sticking needles in their body and measuring their blood sugar levels for actions as simple and trivial to non-diabetics as eating a doughnut. Google’s contacts help remove some of that inconvenience by detecting your blood sugar through your tears and changing color according to the amount detected. The lenses themselves are made up of two soft touch contacts with a chip embedded inside. In short, checking you blood sugar would be as easy as whipping out a compact mirror and checking your eye color. Hopefully no ads are served during this process.

8. Wristband Pulses to Warm Or Cool Wearer


Remember that time you wished you had a wrist mounted device that could heat or cool you and… no? Well that’s probably why you’re not an MIT engineer then. Dubbed the Wristify, a trio of MIT students created a device that monitors both external air temperature and body temperature and adjusts the latter accordingly. According to one of its creators, it’s constantly tricking the body into think it’s actually really cold, forcing the body to acclimate and change its temperature.

7. Bra That Sends Tweets


Simplifying the process of tweeting for the ladies, a special edition bra exists that tweets whenever the bra is taken off. Nestle’s Fitness division teamed up with Twitter to create a single-edition bra to create awareness for breast cancer during breast cancer month in 2013. Worn by the Greek Oprah (Maria Bacodimou), the bra transmits a message through a remote sever to her mobile device, which in turn generates a tweet on the social network reminding women to self-examine themselves for breast cancer. As self-examination is cheaper than a mammogram and more effective than blissful ignorance, this is actually a pretty altruistic publicity stunt. Although we wish there was also a limited briefs and boxers edition. The more the merrier, right?

6. Skin Tattoo Takes Body Temperature


Tattoos have a social stigma attached to them, stemming from the image they have as symbols of rebellion and misspent youth. But this tattoo is none of that. A team of researchers from China, the USA and Singapore have developed an extremely thin electronic patch that sticks to the skin just like a temporary tattoo. It can accurately measure the temperature of the person currently wearing it, as well as blood vessel dilation and constriction. It can also measure the health level of the heart, brain and other organs, and can also tell if that Pepsi you weren’t supposed to have finally tipped you into diabetes land. The downside is that the tattoo needs an external power source like a battery pack, although researchers are currently working on a way for it to function on bio energy.

5. Human to Human Mind Meld


No you didn’t misread the entry title. There actually has been a successful example of one man controlling the brain of another man through his thoughts alone. Well, that and the power of electrodes.

In an experiment carried out in the University of Washington, one professor was able to manipulate the actions of a colleague on the other end of campus. Professor Rajesh Rao and his colleague Andrea Stocco both donned electroencephalography (EEG) caps and sat at opposite sides of the campus. Rao was playing a video game with his imagination, and imagined moving his right hand to fire a cannon. The EEG cap picked up the signal and sent it to Stocco, whose right hand reflexively moved to press the space bar of the keyboard in front of him. While not exactly puppetry scale control at the moment, the research could be advanced and used in the future to program much more complex devices.

4. False Memories Implanted in Mice


Memories are sometimes as reliable as a sieve used to hold water. Using optical fibers, a team of researchers was able to manipulate mice into believing a benign area was dangerous by giving them false bad memories of it. They simply placed the mice in the harmless space, then used a flash of light to trigger the memory forming process. They then placed the mice in another area and triggered the flash again, only this time the mice were given a mild electric shock. When the animals were placed back in the first area they began to show signs of fear, simply because their brain now associated the first area with the pain.

Now, why is this significant? Humans have similar biology to mice. Both brains form memories by creating collections of cells which record those moments and are linked by various neurons. When scientists figure out how to manipulate these neurons on humans, we could have operations to get traumatic memories removed and pleasant ones implanted, and could also begin to fix illnesses like schizophrenia and amnesia. On the other hand, any new technological advance that involves playing with the brain brings out the tin foil hats, and this should be no exception.

3. Implants to Deliver Medication

Daily Medication

We all know that there are people with diseases that need to take daily medication. We also all know that daily medicines are a pain in the ass, and so to make this easier technology has stepped in. A Joint Harvard University and University of Toronto team were able to build several implants made of a hydrogel polymer that is compatible with living tissue. These hydrogel implants were then themselves implanted with photosensitive cells that react to light.

The implants, upon exposure to blue light, were able to simulate insulin protection through a synthetic protein. The test was carried out in mice, so it still needs modification for it to be usable in humans.

2. Emotion Triggered Ads

Blank billboard on blue sky

Have you ever felt that ads were getting a bit too intrusive? Like that ad for Kleenex that popped up when you started getting teary-eyed, or the Shreddies commercial that started playing when you told your friend that you needed new cereal? Well, it may not be all in your head after all. New technology works in sync with computer web-cams to scan the face of the person viewing the screen at the moment. Using a combination of facial recognition software and an in-depth knowledge of people’s reactions, the software engine can use your web-cam to determine your mood and creepily, accurately guess at the emotional reactions you’re having, then serve up ads accordingly.

Big businesses like international retail chains buy this software and use it to manipulate your buying decisions. As one of the companies involved in development, Affectiva, pointed out, people are controlled by their emotions and gaining access to them is key to selling products. So, basically, we may all have to start wearing masks when reading the news.

1. Bra Sensors That Monitor Your Munchies


Dealing with growing obesity is a lucrative market and can lead to some very off-beat technologies. Microsoft Research has recently created a special bra that, when combined with a smartphone app, can prevent you from overeating. It works by using a series of sensors embedded in the padding to measure the heart activity of the woman who is wearing it. As people are more likely to eat when stressed, the sensor would use heart rate, respiration rate, temperature and rate of movement to measure the stress level of the wearer. By recording several measurements a day, the bra can accurately tell the norm from the outlier and in turn help the wearer regulate stress eating. Unfortunately, as boxers are not typically worn close to the heart, stress eating men are still on their own for now.

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