You may be familiar with smart grids, open data, and Pachube.

I was reading a piece on smart data, when suddenly a wild quote appears:

“…a  group of hackers who demonstrated in early 2012 that it is possible to discern exactly what film someone is watching by analysing the power consumption of their TV via their smart meter, as every film has a unique  ‘fingerprint’ of electricity usage.”

Oh yes. Confirmed. It happened at a hacking for privacy event.

Reactions and Questions:

  • What an unintended consequence of the technology!
  • What other hidden signals might there be in other sources of data?
  • What good might come of re-purposing seemingly noisy/garbage data?

Just as William H. Perkin discovered purple dye in waste coal tar, who else might discover useful relationships in wasted data?

Another reason why it pays to be curious and creative.

(Your cable company knows more about what you watch – so the specific privacy risk – while interesting, is really quite theoretical in nature.)

I’m Christopher Berry.
I tweet about analytics @cjpberry
I write at