Rise of the machines

Here at Excite Towers, we think privacy concerns on the internet can get a bit overblown sometimes. But, we'll admit we do find location-based services like Foursquare and Facebook Places a bit terrifying. Previous generations fought for the right to walk around without the authorities always knowing where they were, and now we're cheerfully broadcasting our every move.

Even odder are 'near-field communication' technologies, or NFC. A few months ago we showed you the theme park where teenagers could 'Like' things on Facebook just by passing them wearing a special bracelet. Now Google is getting in on the act. Its new Nexus S phone has NFC technology built into it, letting businesses put up 'tags' which can automatically store contact details in your phone or open a URL when you place your phone near them. And Google has just started experimenting with giving businesses in Portland, Oregon - why there, we've no idea - free NFC thingies to stick on their wall. Running your phone over the tag will let you 'recommend' the restaurant on HotPot, Google's new restaurant site.

It all sounds very low-key, but the fact that Google is getting into the places game is big news indeed. In ten years time, perhaps it'll seem normal to 'check in' every darn place you go by waving your phone in the air. Mind you, ten years from now our phones might be embedded in our brains...

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