Reality Mining. On your mobile phone, right now.

Your device has a compass inside.

Reality mining is the collection and analysis of machine-sensed environmental data pertaining to human social behavior, with the goal of identifying predictable patterns of behavior.

Our mobile devices are stuffed with environmental sensors. It’s hard to even know them all by name. Much harder is to have an idea about what data they collect and how this could tell something about your life. Most of us know that somehow the smartphone notions your movements so you can play games by rotating it or shaking it. Somehow the display turns off when you bring your phone to the head. And somehow the brightness is adjusted automatically by the ambient light.

But what you probably don’t know is that these sensors are always on and can be read by any website and marketer too. And since you always carry your mobile phone with you there is a wide range of data that is collected by these sensors that theoretically allows advertisers to track you in a very private manner. And there is no chance for you to know when they do so, no countermeasure on your mobile device to protect you.

But before we go deeper into this keep in mind that not every mobile browser implements all this sensor API yet. Try it best with Chrome Android or Firefox mobile which are wide spread anyway.

This is what a website can track

  • your behavior over the day
  • your relative location
  • your activities
    • if you lie in your bed
    • if you walk/run
    • if you go by train/bus
    • if you are nervous/calm
    • if you show something to someone on our phone
  • when you pick up/lay down your phone
  • if you are left/right handed
  • if you are in an urban area
  • if you are at your favorite place
  • if your are home/at work/in home office

You probably don’t want this… but there is nothing you can do about it yet. So let’s take a look at what the sensor data can tells about you and your behaviors.

Let’s go into detail to see how data is collected

Let’s wrap it up

How you could use this? This can be used from Reality Mining over Behavioral Targeting to Targeted Marketing. When Done well, such JS library would track as many sensors as available with few lines of code and send the data to a storage. You are probably aware of the fact, that marketing on mobile devices is the new hot thing. And herewith it can be expanded to new levels. Until mobile browser will learn to ask for permission to let websites access sensor information…

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