Look to wireless power for secure first party data collection as cookies crumble

Jul. 18, 2022

Originally posted by Hatem Zeine, on SC Media

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Third-party cookies, which have allowed brands and advertisers to track user browsing habits across the web for years, are being phased out. Mozilla’s Firefox and Apple’s Safari browsers already ban third-party cookies, and Google Chrome plans to eliminate them by 2023. This has businesses and marketers scrambling for new sources of data to continue measuring marketing performance and get insights into what consumers want and need.

Companies able to collect first-party data from apps, subscriptions, and loyalty programs aren’t as reliant on third-party cookies, but businesses that don’t have copious first-party data will need access to new data sources. Wireless power has limitless potential as a source of rich first-party data, making now the time for companies to plan ahead.

Wireless power as device deployment enabler

Wireless power has become a gamechanger on several fronts. It can help reduce the cost and hassle of installing IoT devices, increasing energy efficiency, productivity and health by monitoring an environment’s vital signs, helping to achieve sustainability goals by avoiding between 41,000-83,000 kilotons of battery waste and reducing emissions and reliance on lithium.

But wireless power also has potential as an innovation driver; it will accelerate deployment of whole new class of devices. Wireless power that can safely charge devices at a distance has been around for some time. It keeps devices like smartphones, smoke alarms, electric toothbrushes, and smart home devices powered up without cords or charging mats. And that’s just for the home.

Engineers who create sensors and devices that rely on battery power must limit the product features to fit the available power in the battery, which ultimately limits functionality. With reliable wireless power, teams can more easily add product design changes and new features. For example, battery-powered electronic shelf labels (ESLs) in stores display product info and price, but with wireless power, it becomes practical to expand functionality.

Wirelessly powered ESLs increase the number of display changes up to 100 a day, enabling stores to match prices with online retailers by the minute. But even more intriguing, wireless power offers sensing capabilities, which let stores detect motion at and around every ESL, providing a huge data source to the retailer on customer behavior and how the store and its arrangement captures buyer attention. This source of data can change the brick-and-mortar effectiveness, profitability and even relevance.

Many of the devices we use every day are not connected, from the traditional smoke detectors to our electric toothbrushes. These devices use power, but do not usually communicate. With the advent of wireless power, manufacturers receive anonymous data on product usage, number of times used and how long the product lasts.

On the security front, as wireless power gets applied to more use cases, it will operate downstream of industry-standard gateways rather than providing a gateway. With insights from wirelessly powered devices, retailers and businesses can optimize products and operations while ensuring compliance and safety.

More connected devices = more data  

Wirelessly powered devices are connected to the internet, so they deliver incredibly detailed data in real time. That’s why these sensors are already changing the way major retailers track inventory and monitor items in the supply chain, enabling an explosion of first-party data.

Consider the possibilities in the connected home, where Bluetooth-enabled and Wi-Fi-connected devices are installed. The number of smaller devices currently powered by conventional wired power or batteries exceeds 100 now, but within the next decade, devices will proliferate, and that number could easily increase tenfold.

If wirelessly powered, device feature sets could expand to enable collection, anonymization and transmission of detailed first-party data to owners, manufacturers and marketers. This data could include information on how often the device gets used, duration of use, which features are used and how many people use it in a single location — data that’s far more granular than the insights generated from third-party cookies.

The volume and quality first-party data wireless power will enable can unleash unprecedented consumer product innovation, a deeper connection between brands and customers, and help foster privacy-safe data sharing. But as we know from hacking cases involving consumer smart devices already on the market, security holds the key to fully realizing these benefits.

Wireless power as a security partner

Companies capable of delivering regulatory-approved wireless power aren’t in the business of replacing products currently reliant on wires or batteries. They are in the business of providing assurance that a new generation of wireless power-capable devices will stay powered up, while working with manufacturers to bring those products to market.

Wireless power transmitters tied to location can detect spoofs and offer a layer of security. Transmitters use APIs to ensure continuous wireless power delivery and technology providers can work with partners and product developers to use APIs connected to devices to create a secure and coherent ecosystem.

Wireless power technology companies can become security partners as new devices expand the internet-of-things and drive deeper insights than third-party cookies ever could. But now, as the cookies are crumbling, security professionals must think about the possibility of a world rich with first-party data from an explosion of wirelessly powered connected devices.

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