Take Control of Your Car with Mavia

Mavia DeviceTodd chats to Madison of Mavizon about their new Mavia automotive product which keeps tabs on your vehicle in more ways than one.

Mavia is a small box (see picture left) that plugs into your vehicle’s ODB-II port – that’s the connector used by technician’s to check on the car when there’s a problem. The Mavia combines readouts from this port with its own internal GPS receiver to provide location and technical information that is sent back to an online hub at www.mymavia.comAndroid and iPhone client apps can be downloaded too.

The MyMavia hub will show data on the vehicle such as gas mileage and distance to next service, plus any diagnostic error codes. MyMavia can interpret some of the diagnostic codes and it enables the owner to consult other resources, online or otherwise, to find out more on what’s wrong with the car. MyMavia incorporates location services too, showing where the vehicle is on Google Maps and there are connections to social sites like Foursquare.

The Mavia is in a beta testing phase so pricing is not confirmed but is expected to be around $200. The device will be available from retail outlets later in the year and requires no special fitting; it’s a self-install.

Interview by Todd Cochrane of Geek News Central for the TechPodcast Network.

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Malls Will Not Track You For Now

This is an update to the article I wrote on the 26th of November Malls Maybe Tracking Your Cellphone. A brief background, two malls in the United States, the Promenade Temecula in Southern California and the Short Pump Town Center in Richmond, Va, where planning to test Footpath by Path Intelligence, a technology which allows malls to track the path of their costumers. One of the concerns that I and others brought up was the issue of privacy. The fact that in order to opt out of the tracking you had to turn off your cellphone, which isn’t realistic in today’s world. This issue was also brought up in a letter by Senator Charles Schumer of New York. In a press conference and also in a letter to the mall and the FTC, Senator Schumer stated “A shopper’s personal cell phone should not be used by a third party as a tracking device by retailers,” Schumer said in a press conference on Sunday. “Personal cell phones are just that—personal. If retailers want to tap into your phone to see what your shopping patterns are, they can ask you for your permission to do so.” He especially had an issue with the idea that a consumer had to opt out of the tracking by turning their cellphone off. He stated this should be something consumers opt into and not opt out. Forest City which owns both the malls has not abandoned the plan entirely, but is trying to find a way to make it opt in. Path Intelligence the maker of Footpath, insist that this method of tracking is no different than cookies on the Internet. This maybe true, but I can manage online cookies, while this is an opt in or opt out period. I don’t expect this technology to go away, but it does need to be updated to be opt in.

Malls Maybe Tracking Your Cellphone

http://www.pathintelligence.com/templates/joomla_template_inner/images/path_logo.pngRetailers are constantly trying to track shoppers activities, to try to attract more consumers to their stores and improve their sales. They use various methods to do this including shopper cards and newspaper inserts just to name a few. A couple of malls are testing a new technology called Footpath by Path Intelligence. Footpath tracks the movement of consumers by their cellphone. It has the ability to track the consumer to within a few meters of where they are. The information is then feed to a central processing center, where it is audited and studied to create a continual updated report on the flow of shoppers throughout a store or mall. It can be used to better place stores in a mall and merchandise within a store.

According to the Path website, it works by tracking random signals from mobile phones. The system does not collect or view phone numbers, SMS messages, or listen to calls. The information it collects can not identify an individual caller. The detector units can only be accessed by trained personal, mall employees do not have access to the tracking device. So the tracking devices can not be combined with other information by mall employees to get more detailed and individual information. It is aggregated information and not real-time that is provided to client. Path also has agreed not to access any third-party information that could in combination with Footpath identify individuals. Despite these promises some privacy experts are concerned about the misuse of the technology by both Path and their clients. Mark Rasch, the director of cyber security at CSC stated.

“Although this mall technology might not identify specific individuals, it raises a bunch of privacy red flags,” he wrote. “First, the instant the consumer identifies himself or herself anywhere in the mall (say, by using a credit or debit card to buy something), it is a trivial task to cross reference the cell phone data with the payment data and realize that the person hanging around outside the Victoria’s Secret dressing room was your 70-year-old neighbor.”(via We’re watching: malls track shopper’s cell phone signals to gather marketing data)

At this point only two malls in the United States are testing the technology, the Promenade Temecula in Southern California and the Short Pump Town Center in Richmond, Va. They will be testing it thru New Year’s Day. Both malls have signs throughout their location telling shoppers that their cellphones are being tracked and they can opt out of the system by turning their phones off. In today’s world where most people are never without their phones, this seems an unlikely choice. The system is also being tested in some malls in Europe and Australia. It wouldn’t be surprising to see this technology and it’s uses being tested in court by privacy advocates. However since malls are private properties courts tend to give them a lot of leeway.

iPhone Tracking: Much Ado about Nothing?

If you are into technology or not you couldn’t have missed the out cry over the story that the iPhone is capturing your location data and storing it on both the phone and the computer it is sync to. There have been many articles written on the subject, many which were written to clearly capture the reader attention, like Your iPhone is tracking Your Every Move or a the Huffington Post article The Scary Implications of the iPhone Tracking Everywhere You Go or Got an iPhone or 3G iPad? Apple is recording your moves. Although all of these are true, they are over simplified. The fact that the iPhone and 3G iPad was capturing and storing location information on both the gadget and the computer it is sync to has been known for awhile by the forensic community, Alex LeVinson of Katana Forensic published a paper on the subject for the Hawaii International Conference for System Science 44 in 2010 A book was published in December 2010, called  iOS Forensic Analysis for iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch which has a whole chapter on the issue. The information is not hidden, although the file has moved over the various versions. (Just because something is not announce doesn’t mean it is hidden.) Finally, there is no indication that Apple is pulling any location information into their own server, other then what is permitted under the User Agreement

According to most sources the information that is being collected is the triangulation of the location of the two nearest cell towers plus the direction the phone is headed. It can tell you where the person generally was; ie what city they are in, but not a [specific location][7]. There are indications that many Android phones collect the same information if the location service is turned on.

There are still are still several questions that need to be answer. First why is the information being collected and why is the file kept so long in the backup folder. The second problem is the information is unencrypted, which means anyone who has access to the phone including the police can get to the information. Which bring up the question of how information that is stored on a cell phone or a tablet falls under the Fourth Amendment. The final answer to this question is still to be determine. These are all important question. However in my opinion the sky is falling cry that came out of much of the blogging and social media community was over done and misleading.