I know I’m about to date myself with this reference, but I was thinking about the Arnold Schwarzenegger movie Total Recall the other day. The plot (which is similar to most of Arnold’s movies of the day), is that he is a spy with his memory erased and in the attempt to figure out who he is, he travels to Mars, meets a beautiful resistance fighter and eliminates all the bad guys. But the scene that always stuck out in my mind was the one where Arnold realizes a tracking device is implanted in him allowing the spy agency to know his every move. Without going into the gory details, he takes a painful path to remove the tracking device. It showed how important it was that he be able to move about freely without revealing his whereabouts.
Did you know that your iPhone® or Android™ device is likely doing something similar as you use it and navigate through your daily routine? Both device’s default settings are set to track your location regularly creating a digital map of where you’ve been, when you were there, and how long you stayed. That data capture is the way Siri® can recommend places you might enjoy the next time you’re in, say, Wheeling, West Virginia. Or the way your phone tells you when you get in your car you have a 50 minute commute to work that morning. It’s using the data from your daily routine to improve your mobile-device experience. Convenient when using the phone for those very purposes, but scary when you think that a map of your wanderings is being created without you (likely) knowing.
The world has changed a lot in the last 10+ years with the prevalence of smartphones. Most of us now have a computer in our pocket that is more powerful than the servers we were using before their advent. And these devices have a much further reach into our daily routines than any previous systems ever did. This is having an extraordinary effect on discovery and the information that may be requested or identified in almost any case. What if the key to your case rested on someone’s location? Would having a map of where their phone was over time be helpful? What if your case rested on whether someone had a physical problem that prevented them from being mobile? Would it be helpful to show that the iPhone’s health app recorded the 4,500 steps they took on average each day over the prior months? The possibilities are endless.