The game smartphones play [Gulf News (United Arab Emirates)]
(Gulf News (United Arab Emirates) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Ever get the feeling that your smartphone is messing with your head
I've heard this from people before, but for a long list of reasons - most of them based on the belief that some people are just crazy - I've always dismissed it. But over the past few weeks, I've begun to think it isn't so crazy. Or maybe insanity is catching, who knows But whatever the reason, I've begun to see my phone in a new, slightly-sinister light.
It all started with a "phantom ring tone," a phenomenon first reported on in the New York Times in 2006. To sum up the article, either people are so attached to their mobile phones they become extra-vigilant to anything they think could be their ringtone; or your mind is playing some kind of aural mind game. Yes, you ears might really be playing tricks on you. This "trick" causes you to mistake normal, everyday sounds for your ringtone. The result is the same: you find yourself constantly reaching for your phone only to discover no one is calling you.
Like I said, crazy, but about two weeks ago I started to hear my ringtone everywhere I went. Now, my ring tone isn't some badly composed technotrash or random sound effect. It's the Cantina Song from Star Wars. It's a very distinctive sound, and since I made it my ringtone, I've been hearing it constantly.
You might think that's funny, but this problem is compounded by the fact there seems to be a glitch with my phone. When someone calls, the ringtone will start to play at a really low volume for about a half a second, and then switches to full volume, making it sound like the alien band is in the room with me. The result is I've been hearing the phantom ringing of the Cantina Band, reaching for my phone, and discovering that no one is actually calling. I learn to ignore this, until someone actually calls and I nearly jump out of my skin in my attempt to stop the loudest ringtone in the universe.
The Cantina Band used to be a funny tune I associated with one of my favourite movies. Now it's an alarm bell that travels up my spine and makes me understand why Han shot first. Not surprising, I changed my ringtone - it's now the country and western version of the Cantina Band from the movie "Paul" - and the phantom menace, I mean ringtone, has now gone away.
I've checked out the phantom ringtone phenomenon online, and with the exception of the now 7 year-old NYT story, very little has been written about it, although there is still plenty of discussion about it in the online forums. Based on what I read, I put the whole thing down as an "aural trick."
But then there was the issue with the eye.
Now, I've had my new phone for a few months so I'm still not completely familiar with all the settings, but looking down and seeing a digital (albeit small) eye is a tad bit odd, if not a little freaky. It comes and goes and is only on for a second or two. Unlike, the phantom ringtone, this turns out to be something based in technology. The symbol is Samsung's way of letting you know its eye tracking technology is working. The technology, which has several functions, will actually look at you using in front-facing camera to see if you are looking at the screen. If you aren't, it can power down the screen to save battery life, and if you are, if will make sure the screen is properly rotated to your face.
Bottom line: your phone is watching you. Sure, it has a legitimate reason now, but how much longer before it start to reading your lips and refusing to open the pod bay doors
I have to say I am far more put of by my phone's ability to watch me than I am by my ear's insistence than I'm in alien bar on Tatootine.
My main concern this that, unlike the phantom ringtones, it's a privacy issue. No, I don't care if it's a machine. No one likes being watched, and people especially don't like it when they catch other people watching them. And while I have no reason to believe I'm being recorded, how would I know I don't really know when my phone is watching me. And no, I'm not going to start a staring content with my phone to see how often the little eye flickers on.
Am I being overly paranoid Probably. But this might cross a line. I had no major issues when Google started scanning my email for possible advertising information, but I've never had a device I carried with me everywhere that could watch me. I think I'd rather just go back to hearing things.
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