As regular readers will know, I'm of the belief that we're going to see headphones getting smarter and smarter. (See here, here, and here.) Smart headphones will offer some astonishing benefits: blind people will be able to walk around with voice cues seemingly coming from outside their head identifying their surroundings; you'll be able to walk around in foreign countries and be able to have signs written in foreign languages read to you; and you'll be able to watch movies on your iPad with convincing out-of-head localization of surround encoded material, amongst many other things.
It's also very likely that we'll have various biometric sensors (pulse, temperature, perspiration, and even brainwaves) in smart headphones that help us monitor exercise and our physical health.
But there will also be an ever-increasing ability to use these sensors to track behaviors. Eye-tracking and image recognition technologies can, for example, tell how often you stare at attractive women...and what part of their bodies you're looking at. Imagine your wife having access to data from that app!
Well, researchers at the University of Montreal have begun to use virtual reality techniques to monitor sex offender impulses to gain a better understanding of patient psychology and treatment progress. (Read full article here.) In the past patients were able to game the system too easily and make identifying desease attributes and tracking progress very difficult. This new technique gives clinicians a much clearer picture symptoms and treatment progress. Projecting into the future somewhat, I can imagine a time when sex offenders have to wear something like a Google Glass to track and report behaviors real-time.
So, it occurs to me that in the not too distant future our headphones and smartphones are going to know more about us than we do. They'll know what excites us, when we feel depressed, when we need to eat...and how much. I'm not sure becoming reliant upon technology in order to be aware of my physical and mental needs is such a good idea. Shouldn't we be developing those skills internally? And, donning my tin-foil hat for a moment, will the NSA be farming this sort of data for an entirely new dimension of monitoring we, the people?
What do you think?