Using GPS to track a risky teenage driver or a cheating spouse is about to become old hat.
You see, we are actually on the verge of a revolution that will allow us to locate and track every physical object made in the world.
Not to mention literally every person on planet Earth.
And best of all, this new technology can be used to solve a wide range of problems.
From checking on patients at home, to finding stolen cars, to locating soldiers lost from their units, the possibilities are endless.
Then again, as privacy advocates are quick to point out, there is also the potential for abuse.
Consider this: In the near future, Big Brother will even be able to track your clothing. It's right out of "1984."
That's why I believe the Supreme Court's recent ruling that curbs police use of GPS trackers is a big win for citizens and high-tech investors.
That's because the high court used a broad brush that will give police units pause before they abuse the new tracking technology.
We need these broad safeguards for one simple reason: In the Era of Radical Change, the pace of breakthroughs is so fast that no court or government agency can hope to keep up.
Welcome to the Surveillance Society
In that regard the Supreme Court's timing is right on the money.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is set to approve new, small helicopter "spy" drones for local police to use in cities.
In fact, AeroVironment Inc. (Nasdaq: AVAV) has a new device especially tailored for law enforcement. The mini-copter weighs just 5.5 pounds and fits in a car trunk.
It costs about $40,000, roughly the price of a police cruiser. But the drone is often much better than a car at tracking suspects.
Big energy also has shown interest in these new drones. They work well for checking on remote assets like oil rigs and pipelines.
I also recently told you about AeroVironment's new hummingbird-sized spy drone. I predict that in a few short years, the scale of these robots will shrink to the size of a fly.
Believe it or not, there is even "talking" underwear courtesy of the Pentagon.
The Army wants clothing firms to make low-cost knitted fabrics with embedded sensors. That way high-tech skivvies can gather data about soldiers.
Turns out the Army Medical Research and Material Command wants to track heart rate, sweat and skin temperature.
The Possibilities are Endless
Obviously, with this type of tech, the sky's the limit.
I predict that at the very least tracking technology will be used to monitor home patients to keep them in steady contact with doctors. That alone could help lower health costs.
It also redefines the whole idea of wearable computers. At some point in the very near future, I believe we will all become walking digital data streams.
Don't scoff. It's already happening. Shoes can now link to computers.
Researchers say they track the shoes by using a camera mounted under a table.
Doing so allows several people use a touch screen at the same time without confusing the computer.
Stopping Counterfeiters Dead in Their Tracks
In the meantime, the U.S. government is looking at a new type of tracking tech that could have a huge global impact across a wide range of sectors.
The Pentagon tested a system that uses DNA from plants to help weed out fake parts.
Applied DNA Sciences (OTCBB: APDN) and Altera Corp. (Nasdaq: ALTR) recently completed a six-month study. They are now working on a system for the Defense Logistics Agency that verifies defense electronics.
Called DNA marking, this technology is extremely important. No one knows how many counterfeit parts are sold in the world, but most experts say the value totals several billion dollars.
That covers everything from watches to purses to electronics.
So, not only are the taxpayers ripped off when a defense firm gets duped, national security suffers as well.
Can you imagine what would happen if a fighter jet fired missiles that went off course because the parts inside were bogus?
Last year, the Senate Armed Services Committee found the number of fake parts sold to defense firms nearly tripled in three years to 9,356 reports.
Here's a real shocker - China had five times the number of reported fraud cases as any other source nation.
This area is about to get a lot of buzz because stopping these counterfeit goods has the backing of the Obama Administration.
In his State of the Union address, the president said he's launching the Trade Enforcement Unit. The new agency is charged with inspecting goods coming into the U.S.
So this field is set to take off. It has backing from the White House, safeguards from the courts and lots of exciting new technology.
For investors, that means profits are just around the corner.
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