Living in a Smart World - People as Sensors

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Bernie GoldieUniversity of Wollongong
Katina MichaelUniversity of Wollongong
Alexander HayesUniversity of Wollongong


Associate Professor Katina Michael from UOW’s School of Information Systems and Technology is the program chair of ISTAS13.

“Smart people interacting with smart infrastructure means that intelligence is driving decisions,” Professor Michael said.

“People wearing sensors (e.g. temperature, physiological characteristics), location data loggers, microphones, cameras, tokens, and other wearable and embeddable systems can see direct benefits for a host of applications including health and well-being, emergencies, convenience, and care-oriented solutions.”

However, Professor Michael said these emerging technologies and applications have the potential to become controlling applications because they are used for example to make decisions, generate alerts and log employee movements.

“There are great socio-ethical implications that will stem from these technologies and fresh regulatory and legislative approaches are required to deal with this new environment,” she said.

Professor Michael believes the time for discussing wearable computing and augmented reality in everyday life is now.

“Widespread diffusion of wearables has not yet occurred and the time for discussing the potential implications of these technologies is now. Law enforcement officers in Australia are already trialling these always-on recording devices as are members of the private security industry. In-car video recorders have been used officially and unofficially in a number of police forces over the last 10 years. What does it mean when the everyday citizen puts on the same equipment and presses the record button taking video images of those around them?”

Professor Michael highlighted how earlier this year Google launched their Glass Project in concept and they believe they will be going to market by 2014. Microsoft and Apple and a number of other smaller vendors are also developing this new technology at rapid speed.

“Are we ready for this explosion in personal recording devices that log the world around us? This is a particularly pertinent question for those people who will not be adopters of the technology. There is an asymmetric power relationship between wearers and non-wearers. The law, especially privacy and surveillance device laws, lag far behind in Australia and most other jurisdictions.”

Suggested Citation

Bernie Goldie, Katina Michael, and Alexander Hayes. "Living in a Smart World - People as Sensors" University of Wollongong: Media Release Jun. 2013.