Forget Facebook: DataCoup allows users to sell their private data directly to businesses. But will consumers feel comfortable taking them up on the offer?

By MSN Money Partner Sep 8, 2014 8:02AM

Business executive handing out cashBy Jacob Davidson, Money


Matt Hogan wants to give you $10 a month in exchange for all of your personal data. Your Facebook (FB) likes. Your tweets. Your Instagram photos. Even your spending history. Everything about you, in other words, that's digitally accessible.


Whether or not that sounds like a fair exchange, Hogan's offer is better than zero, which is what we generally get paid for our data now -- and that's the reason many consumers just might be intrigued.


After all, with Facebook, Google (GOOG) and other companies making money off of every search-engine query and social media post they can get their hands on, isn't it about time the people who generate all their data get a cut of the revenue it generates?


"There's no other asset class [other than personal data] where the chief stakeholder has zero rights at the negotiating table," Hogan argues.

 

Starting next summer, every smartphone sold in California must have an anti-theft device. But many users don't have to wait to safeguard their phones.

By MSN Money Partner Aug 27, 2014 12:15PM

Woman using smartphone in San Francisco © AP Photo/Ben MargotBy Kara Brandeisky, Money


Smartphone theft just got a whole lot less lucrative. This week, California Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill requiring that all smartphones sold in the state include a "kill switch," software that makes it impossible for thieves to use stolen phones.


Money on MSN MoneyHere's something you may not know: Your phone could already have such a switch. Both Apple (AAPL) iPhones and Samsung (SSNLF) phones have new software that "locks" the device so that unauthorized users are unable to activate it. According to the San Francisco Police Department, the city saw a 38 percent drop in iPhone thefts in the six months after Apple released its kill switch.


In June, Google (GOOG) and Microsoft (MSFT) promised to offer kill switch technology in their next operating systems, and for now, both offer other apps to help you protect a lost phone. (Microsoft owns and publishes MSN Money.)


The California bill requires that tech companies make the kill switch feature standard on all phones starting July 1, 2015. In the meantime, you can enable your phone's available security features by turning on the right settings. Here's how.

 

The ride-sharing startup continues its push into the mainstream by partnering with service industry stalwarts.

By MSN Money Partner Aug 21, 2014 3:24PM

Uber taxi app on a smartphone © REX/Jeff BlacklerBy Justin Bachman, Bloomberg BusinessWeek


The day after ride-sharing startup Uber declared its ambition to be "as reliable as running water, everywhere for everyone," it took a big step toward mainstream ubiquity.


TBloomberg BusinessWeek on MSN Moneyhe startup with the dizzying $17 billion valuation has opened its software platform to almost a dozen partner companies with mobile apps, including Starbucks (SBUX), United Airlines (UAL) and Hyatt Hotels (H).


That means that when you book a table for two using OpenTable (PCLN), you can also reserve a car to take you to the restaurant; you can use United's app to find an Uber to or from the airport. An OpenTable spokeswoman, Tiffany Fox, calls the link to Uber "a value-add for customers" traveling to and from restaurants.

 

Like a mechanical flash mob, the group of about a thousand tiny robots can work together -- like bees or army ants -- in vast numbers without guidance.

By MSN Money Partner Aug 15, 2014 3:10PM

One of the tiny Kilobot robots that make up the swarm. © Michael Rubenstein/Harvard University
By Robert Lee Hotz, The Wall Street Journal


Harvard University scientists have devised a swarm of 1,024 tiny robots that can work together without any guiding central intelligence.


The Wall St. Journal on MSN MoneyLike a mechanical flash mob, these robots can assemble themselves into five-pointed stars, letters of the alphabet and other complex designs. The researchers at Harvard's Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering in Cambridge, Massachusetts, reported their work Thursday in Science.


"No one had really built a swarm of this size before, where everyone works together to achieve a goal," said robotics researcher Michael Rubenstein, who led the project.

 

The company's Aloft brand is testing a 3-foot-tall robotic assistant in a new pilot program.

By MSN Money Partner Aug 12, 2014 10:36AM

Botlr robot at Starwood Hotel / Courtesy of Justin Solomon
By Justin Solomon, CNBC


Look out, Rosie the Robot: Starwood Hotels' (HOT) Aloft brand has a taskmaster of its own.


His (or her?) name is A.L.O., pronounced "el-oh" -- the hotel chain's first Botlr (short for robotic butler).


CNBC on MSN MoneyStanding just under 3 feet tall, A.L.O. comes dressed in a vinyl-collared butler uniform and will soon be on call all day and night to fulfill requests from guests.


Forget your toothpaste? Need more towels? How about a late-night chocolate bar? All guests of the hotel have to do is call the front desk, where staff will load up the Botlr with requested items, punch in the guest's room number and send it off to make the delivery, navigating hallways and even call for the elevator using Wi-Fi.

 

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