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Will XAPP - and Apps Like It - "Zap" What's Left of Our Privacy?

  |  June 16, 2014   |  Comments

New advances in technology are invading our ever-shrinking personal space, but the trend isn't going anywhere anytime soon. How can we embrace these new innovations?

To be honest, the first thing I thought of when reading about the new voice recognition app, appropriately titled XAPP, and its founders - former Fannie Mae chairman Frank Raines and investor Pat Higbie - was, "Why isn't Mr. Raines in prison?"

Of course, I'm referring to the financial collapse of '08 and the starring role the nice folks at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac played in it.

Nonetheless, after getting past my initial woooah?, XAPP, the first interactive "voice-click" application, which allows you to respond to an ad on the radio, using only your voice, and instantly download the featured app or receive more information on the product, is likely to be the next step in our ongoing journey down the technological "rabbit hole."

That's not to imply it's a "bad" thing; but, as we've seen with all the recent hullabaloo over the NSA's spying, Facebook/Google/Apple's data collecting, etc., etc., when it comes to opening the Pandora's Box of the latest in "interactive" software, we never quite know how big it's going to get.

Point being, it's anybody's guess what this type of technology will mean with regards to products/advertisers further invading our ever-shrinking personal space, but, there's no denying it's only going to "get bigger."

Can advertisers be trusted to use this new technology in a responsible manner? Absolutely not. And with Congress still trying to figure out how to regulate cable T.V., odds are our privacy/information laws will remain stuck in the Dark Ages for years to come.

Meanwhile, let's face it, whether this particular incarnation of voice-click software is successful or not - and first reports from clients such as NPR suggest it is - you can bet, someone somewhere is currently working on app that will have both "eyes" as well as "ears," and will be able to recognize, not only what you say, but who's saying it: "Hi, David. I see you've recently bought a new BMW. Would you like to find out how Geico can save you 15 percent on your car insurance? Respond with a 'yes,' or simply nod your head."

Yes, folks, it's coming. With each passing day, The Matrix seems less like a far-fetched fantasy and more like a documentary.

What I'd like to know is, how XAPP bypasses your app store password and instantly installs whatever application it is you just requested be downloaded. Every time I download an app, my phone asks me for my password, yet, it seems XAPP professes to only need your voice.

And, for God's sake, let us all pray they don't move past the short "2-3 word" phrase requirement, as every-single time I utter more than five words to Siri - or even Dragon - "Can you pick me up tonight?" becomes "Can you pick me up two knights?"

As skillfully designed as they say their technology is, one can only imagine all the unnecessary spam that may flood your inbox, simply by saying "Hi" to a friend at the wrong time. Nonetheless, like Slim Pickens, we are all strapped to the "A-Bomb" of technology, so we may as well enjoy the ride.

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David Fagin

David Fagin is a New York-based writer/producer/musician.

His resume boasts an incredibly diverse range of contributions, from top news sites such as Salon, AOL News, Yahoo, and The Huffington Post to a wide-range of humorous entities such as The Onion, The Muppets, Comedy Central, Dennis Miller Live, and Howard Stern.

He is fascinated by technology and social media and the seemingly love/hate relationship we have with the changing world. He is also a food snob.

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