Sensors adding immense utility to phones

I came across an article in Technology Review, which expounds on the mind-blowing applications of the sensors that go into the latest cell phone models, such as Apple's iPhone.

The trendy technologies that are infused in today's cell phones are the results of tiny powerful sensors that "sense" certain activities on the device. Sensors, like the accelerometer (to measure motion), light sensor, and infrared sensor could some day convey information about your near and dear ones on your location, health condition, or surroundings just via a phone call.

"If you get access to [a phone's] accelerometer data, you can get a variety of contextual clues about how the user is living their life," says Nathan Eagle, a research scientist at MIT. "For instance, whether or not a user is riding a bike, taking the subway, walking up stairs, or sitting for a long period of time. The data can be used to let workers know if they need to take a break or if a person is meeting exercise goals," he says.

In fact, researchers at Intel are already designing software that computes the data obtained from a number of sensors to determine users social surroundings. While current applications are limited in scope to these developments, it is only a matter of time before the increasing processing power of cell phones is used for a multitude of applications. But more applications raise more privacy concerns as well. What's your take on these technological advances? Voice your thoughts here.

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