Behavioural analysis

As early as 2008, the Chinese telecommunications giant ZTE began helping Venezuela develop a system similar to the identity system used in China to track social, political, and economic behaviour. By 2018, Venezuela was rolling out its "carnet de la patria", a smart-card "fatherland" ID card that
In 2018, technology companies and medical providers were experimenting with machine learning and AI to mine health records and online posts to identify patterns linked to suicide, hoping to be able to predict, and therefore prevent, such attempts. On the academic side, a pilot programme conducted by
31 Jul 2019
The Lumi by Pampers nappies will track a child's urine (not bowel movements) and comes with an app that helps you "Track just about everything". The activity sensor that is placed on the nappy also tracks a baby's sleep. Concerns over security and privacy have been raised, given baby monitors can be
06 Feb 2019
In January 2019, Facebook announced that as of February 28 the site would add more information to that displayed when users click on the "Why am I seeing this?" button that appears next to ads on the service. Along with the brand that paid for the ad, some of the biographical details they'd targeted
13 Aug 2018
In August 2018, banks and merchants had begun tracking the physical movements users make with input devices - keyboard, mouse, finger swipes - to aid in blocking automated attacks and suspicious transactions. In some cases, however, sites are amassing tens of millions of identifying "behavioural
03 Aug 2018
Cookies and other tracking mechanisms are enabling advertisers to manipulate consumers in new ways. For $29, The Spinner will provide a seemingly innocent link containing an embedded cookie that will allow the buyer to deliver targeted content to their chosen recipient. The service advertises
16 Oct 2018
In October 2018, researcher Johannes Eichstaedt led a project to study how the words people use on social media reflect their underlying psychological state. Working with 1,200 patients at a Philadelphia emergency department, 114 of whom had a depression diagnosis, Eichstaedt's group studied their
09 Jul 2018
In 2018, economists Marianne Bertrand and Emir Kamenica at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business showed that national divisions are so entrenched that details of what Americans buy, do, and watch can be used to predict, sometimes with more than 90% accuracy, their politics, race, income
08 May 2018
In 2018, based on an analysis of 270,000 purchases between October 2015 and December 2016 on a German ecommerce site that sells furniture on credit, researchers at the National Bureau of Economic Research found that variables such as the type of device could be used to estimate the likelihood that a
13 Dec 2017
In 2017, Britain's' two biggest supermarkets, Tesco and Sainsbury's, which jointly cover 45% of the UK's grocery market, announced they would offer discounts on car and home insurance based on customers' shopping habits. For example, based on data from its Nectar card loyalty scheme, Sainsbury's
18 Jul 2018
In July 2018, Dutch researcher Foeke Postma discovered that Polar, the manufacturer of the world's first wireless heart rate monitor manufacturer, was exposing the heart rates, routes, dates, times, duration, and pace of exercises performed by individuals at military sites and at their homes via its
12 Jun 2018
In June 2018, Uber filed a US patent application for technology intended to help the company identify drunk riders by comparing data from new ride requests to past requests made by the same user. Conclusions drawn from data such as the number of typos or the angle at which the rider is holding the
20 Apr 2018
In April 2018, the Austrian cabinet agreed on legislation that required asylum seekers would be forced to hand over their mobile devices to allow authorities to check their identities and origins. If they have been found to have entered another EU country first, under the Dublin regulation, they can
09 Oct 2018
In October 2018 Amazon patented a new version of its Alexa virtual assistant that would analyse speech to identify signs of illness or emotion and offer to sell remedies. The patent also envisions using the technology to target ads. Although the company may never exploit the patent, the NHS had
15 Oct 2018
In March 2018 the Palo Alto startup Mindstrong Health, founded by three doctors, began clinical tests of an app that uses patients' interactions with their smartphones to monitor their mental state. The app, which is being tested on people with serious illness, measures the way patients swipe, tap
07 Jul 2018
In a 2018 interview, the Stanford professor of organisational behaviour Michal Kosinski discussed his research, which included a controversial and widely debunked 2017 study claiming that his algorithms could distinguish gay and straight faces; a 2013 study of 58,000 people that explored the
29 May 2018
In 2018, a Duke University medical doctor who worked with Microsoft researchers to analyse millions of Bing user searches found links between some computer users' physical behaviours - tremors while using a mouse, repeated queries, and average scrolling speed - and Parkinson's disease. The hope was
04 Apr 2017
In 2017, the Massachusetts attorney general's office reached an agreement under which Boston-based Copley Advertising agreed to eschew sending mobile ads to patients visiting Planned Parenthood and other health clinics. In 2015, Copley's geofencing technique used location information from
15 May 2018
In 2011, the US Department of Homeland Security funded research into a virtual border agent kiosk called AVATAR, for Automated Virtual Agent for Truth Assessments in Real-Time, and tested it at the US-Mexico border on low-risk travellers who volunteered to participate. In the following years, the
31 Oct 2018
In 2018, the EU announced iBorderCtrl, a six-month pilot led by the Hungarian National Police to install an automated lie detection test at four border crossing points in Hungary, Latvia, and Greece. The system uses an animated AI border agent that records travellers' faces while asking questions
25 Jul 2014
Nearly 700,000 Facebook users were subjects of a research study where researchers changed randomly selected users' newsfeeds to be more positive or negative to study whether those users then displayed a more positive or negative affect in response. The experiment showed the power of Facebook's control over the News Feed and the algorithms that determine which of the possible pieces of content shows up at the top at any given moment.
The CEO of MoviePass, an app that charges users $10 a month in return for allowing them to watch a movie every day in any of the 90% of US theatres included in its programme, said in March 2018 that the company was exploring the idea of monetising the location data it collects. MoviePass was always
The Danish company Blip Systems deploys sensors in cities, airports, and railway stations to help understand and analyse traffic flows and improve planning. In the UK's city of Portsmouth, a network of BlipTrack sensors was installed in 2013 by VAR Smart CCTV, and the data it has collected is used
In 2016, Facebook and its photo-sharing subsidiary Instagram rolled out a new reporting tool that lets users anonymously flag posts that suggest friends are threatening self-harm or suicide. The act of flagging the post triggers a message from Instagram to the user in question offering support
28 Feb 2018
Recruiters are beginning to incorporate emotional recognition technology into the processes they use for assessing video-based job applications. Human, a London-based start-up, claims its algorithms can match the subliminal facial expressions of prospective candidates to personality traits. It then
20 Feb 2018
In 2018, pending agreement from its Institutional Review Board, the University of St Thomas in Minnesota will trial sentiment analysis software in the classroom in order to test the software, which relies on analysing the expressions on students' faces captured by a high-resolution webcam
02 Jan 2018
In February 2018 the Canadian government announced a three-month pilot partnership with the artificial intelligence company Advanced Symbolics to monitor social media posts with a view to predicting rises in regional suicide risk. Advanced Symbolics will look for trends by analysing posts from 160
In 2014, the UK suicide prevention group The Samaritans launched Radar, a Twitter-based service intended to leverage the social graph to identify people showing signs of suicidal intent on social media and alert their friends to reach out to offer them help. The app was quickly taken offline after
17 Dec 2017
"To the 53 people who’ve watched A Christmas Prince every day for the past 18 days: Who hurt you?" Netflix tweeted in December 2017. While the tweet did not contain any information that could have identified any of the 53 people, it still made many of those who saw it uncomfortable. A Christmas
Websites have long used third-party analytics scripts to collect information about how visitors use their sites. In November 2017, researchers at Princeton found that an increasing number of sites use "session replay" scripts that collect every action the user performs while on the site, including
04 Oct 2017
In 2017, after protests from children's health and privacy advocates, Mattel cancelled its planned child-focused "Aristotle" smart hub. Aristotle was designed to adapt to and learn about the child as they grew while controlling devices from night lights to homework aids. However, Aristotle was only
04 Sep 2016
A pregnancy-tracking app collected basic information such as name, address, age, and date of last period from its users. A woman who miscarried found that although she had entered the miscarriage into the app to terminate its tracking, the information was not passed along to the marketers to which
In the wake of Tesla’s first recorded autopilot crash, automakers are reassessing the risk involved with rushing semi-autonomous driving technology into the hands of distractible drivers. But another aspect of autopilot—its ability to hoover up huge amounts of mapping and “fleet learning” data—is
12 Jan 2016
In 2016 reports surfaced that bricks-and-mortar retailers were beginning to adopt physical-world analogues to the tracking techniques long used by their online counterparts. In a report, Computer Sciences Corporation claimed that about 30% of retailers were tracking customers in-store via facial
12 Feb 2016
Caucuses, which are used in some US states as a method of voting in presidential primaries, rely on voters indicating their support for a particulate candidate by travelling to the caucus location. In a 2016 Marketplace radio interview, Tom Phillips, the CEO of Dstillery, a big data intelligence
18 Aug 2016
In a presentation given at the Knowledge Discovery and Data Mining conference in 2016, researchers discussed a method of using the data generated by smart card public transport tickets to catch pickpockets. In a study of 6 million passenger movements in Beijing, the researchers used a classifier to
24 Apr 2016
As part of its Smart Nation programme, in 2016 Singapore launched the most extensive collection of data on everyday living ever attempted in a city. The programme involved deploying myriad sensors and cameras across the city-state to comprehensively monitor people, places, and things, including all
25 Dec 2015
In 2015, the Royal Parks conducted a covert study of visitors to London's Hyde Park using anonymised mobile phone signals provided by the network operator EE to analyse footfall. During the study, which was conducted via government-funded Future Cities Catapult, the Royal Parks also had access to
10 Jan 2016
A new generation of technology has given local law enforcement officers in some parts of the US unprecedented power to peer into the lives of citizens. In Fresno, California, the police department's $600,000 Real Time Crime Center is providing a model for other such centres that have opened in New
30 Jan 2016
By 2016, a logical direction for data-driven personalisation efforts to go was toward the "Internet of Emotions": equipping devices with facial, vocal, and biometric sensors that use affective computing to analyse and influence the feelings of device owners. Of particular concern is the potential
05 Apr 2015
Because banks often decline to give loans to those whose "thin" credit histories make it hard to assess the associated risk, in 2015 some financial technology startups began looking at the possibility of instead performing such assessments by using metadata collected by mobile phones or logged from
A new generation of technology has given local law enforcement officers in some parts of the US unprecedented power to peer into the lives of citizens. The police department of Frenso California uses a cutting-edge Real Time Crime Center that relies on software like Beware. As officers respond to
15 Oct 2016
In 2016, the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California published a report revealing that the social media monitoring service Geofeedia had suggested it could help police track protesters. The report's publication led Twitter and Facebook to restrict Geofeedia's access to their bulk data
14 Nov 2016
At the Sixth Annual Conference on Social Media Within the Defence and Military Sector, held in London in 2016, senior military and intelligence officials made it clear that governments increasingly view social media as a tool for the Armed Forces and a "new front in warfare". Social media are also
21 Sep 2016
In 2016, researchers at MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory developed a new device that uses wireless signals that measure heartbeats by bouncing off a person's body. The researchers claim that this system is 87% accurate in recognising joy, pleasure, sadness, or anger
23 Mar 2016
In 2016, the Big Data lab at the Chinese search engine company Baidu published a study of an algorithm it had developed that it claimed could predict crowd formation and suggested it could be used to warn authorities and individuals of public safety threats stemming from unusually large crowds. The
21 Apr 2016
According to the US security firm Statfor the Chinese government has been builsing a system to analyse the massive amounts of data it has been collecting over the past years. The company claims: "The new grid management system aims to help the Chinese government act early to contain social unrest