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Sense and Sensibilities: What Happens When You Can Measure Our Offline Reality Like You Can the Online World?

Sharon Biggar (Path Intelligence), Toby Oliver (Path Intelligence)
Computing, GeoLocation
Location: Empire Room
Average rating: **...
(2.40, 5 ratings)

If I were to tell you that someone can observe where you go, what you look at, where you spend your time, and where you spend your money – would you be concerned? Even if it was anonymous?

Many of us are aware that this happens on the Web today, with systems such as Hitwise. It doesn’t stop us using the Internet, but how do we feel about this when it comes to talking about the “real world?”

With the recent increase in the usage of sensor networks, the same level of automated data collection that is available to the online world is making its way offline. There are far reaching implications of sensing the offline world and the aim of our talk is to lay out both the advantages and the disadvantages of this analysis. With reference to Path Intelligence’s experience in providing automated measuring offline, we will discuss the sensitivities of dealing in the “real world” and call for more awareness of the issues that surround such data collection.

Photo of Sharon Biggar

Sharon Biggar

Path Intelligence

Sharon is a co-founder and the Chief Operating Officer at Path Intelligence. She is responsible for strategy and product development and has assisted Path Intelligence to develop their two flagship products FootPath and QPath.

Sharon is originally from New Zealand but completed her MBA at MIT where she became exposed to the idea of ‘reality mining’. Sharon and her co-founders saw the potential in marrying the techniques being developed in the reality mining space with the innovations and flexibility of another great MIT idea, software defined radio on off-the-shelf hardware.

Path Intelligence today utilise open-source software defined radio to detect RF signals from GSM phones, sensing and collecting anonymous data across all networks but without relying on the mobile networks to provide that data. They are installed throughout the UK where their technology is primarily used to assist shopping malls, retailers and airports enhance their offering to consumers. The firm has been recognised for its innovation and technology leadership through various awards and has been featured regularly in the media including on the BBC, CNN and most recently in the Christmas 2008 edition of The Economist.

Sharon has an MBA degree from MIT, an MA in Economics and a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Music degree from the University of Auckland, New Zealand.

Toby Oliver

Path Intelligence

Toby Oliver is a co-founder and Chief Technology Officer at Path Intelligence. Toby has extensive experience in start-up firms and in developing and commercializing technology. At Path Intelligence he not only leads the firm but as the inventor of the technology is also responsible for its continued position at the frontier of mobile phone technology development. Toby has a passion for not only developing new technologies but also for seeing them through to successful commercial implementation. Prior to Path Intelligence, Toby worked in the investment community analyzing, recommending and conducting due diligence on technology start-up proposals for private investors. During the dot com boom, in particular, Toby’s deep technical expertise were in demand by investors who were seeking to understand new technologies and to evaluate the capabilities of the management teams that were suggesting them. Toby began his career at Thomson Thorn Missiles as a software engineer, before moving on to IBM Research labs and finally JP Morgan where he worked on a technology start-up proposition which was eventually spun out from JP Morgan. Toby has a BEng(Hons) from the Special Engineering Programme, he is a Chartered Engineer and a member of the IET.

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Bobby Vadnais
03/12/2009 11:16pm PDT


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