When we say trash cans, we think of them as containers that collect our garbage but be careful, they are getting smarter. In fact, some already have the ability to track your smartphone usage and your daily behavior.
According to Quartz, a UK start up, that goes by the name Renew, has developed a smart trash can, Renew ORB, that uses MAC addresses of smartphones to track the speed of pedestrians walking at and identify the manufacturer. It is somewhat illegal that the company doesn’t even warn people about data collecting or how it is gonna be used considering the law in the UK requires companies to notify consumers if they want to collect data.
It is said that there are at least 100 Renew ORBs scattered around the city of London.
So why collect information from pedestrians? According to the company’s website:
“We continue to count devices and are able to distinguish uniques versus repeats. It is very much like a website, you can tell how many hits you have had and how many repeat visitors, but we cannot tell who, or anything personal about any of the visitors on the website. So we cannot tell, for example, whether we have seen devices or not as we do not gather any personal details.”
Quartz suggests whatever is collected will be sold to advertisers to help them better target their consumers with ads, plus ads can also be displayed on the Renew ORB thanks to built-in screens.
The officials from Renew claims that consumers can opt out by turning off WiFi settings on their smartphone but honestly 99% of the people who forget to or don’t turn off their WiFi likely won’t turn it off in fear of a smart trash can. Plus does leaving WiFi on give anyone the right to collect data about you? That is a question that I’ll let the legal heads tackle.
As a side but related note, could this be another tracking device by security agencies? We probably will never know.