IoT ruins movies: Single White Female
Setting the scene
There’s nothing like a tale of stolen identity, sex and murder to spice up an otherwise ordinary Tuesday morning. Today, the IoT will get its clutches into Single White Female – a psychological thriller guaranteed to put you off roommates for life.
We’ll investigate how blockchain and the smart home could have helped software designer Allie escape her murderous flatmate, deal with the client from hell and keep her phone calls private.
The movie: Single White Female
Single White Female is a 1992 American thriller directed by Barbet Schroeder and starring Bridget Fonda and Jennifer Jason Leigh. Based on the novel SWF Seeks Same, the movie tells the nail-biting tale of Alison ‘Allie’ Jones’ narrow escape from the clutches of her possessive and, as it turns out, murderous roommate, Hedra. Hedra gradually insinuates herself into Allie’s life, copying her wardrobe and hairstyle and attacking anyone close to her, before eventually trying to kill Allie herself.
How the Internet of Things could ruin Single White Female
It quickly becomes clear that our friend Allie has some serious problems. In particular:
- Her new (and only) business client is a manipulative, sexually harassing jackass
- Her roommate is duplicating her wardrobe and identity
- Her roommate is killing her friends and pinning it on her
Tough times indeed. But panic not, the IoT is here to help.
Problem #1: the client from hell
Following an acrimonious split from her former business partner, Allie is trying to build her client base from scratch. Unfortunately, her new client – Mitch – is aware of this and offers her a laughable fee in exchange for ‘good word of mouth’ and the promise of an introduction to his useful connections. He also withholds payment for Allie’s work unless she performs a sexual act on him. What a prince.
Fortunately there is an IoT solution that would ensure timely payment, if not protection from a coworker’s lusty advances. That solution is blockchain: a digital ledger which securely records cryptocurrency transactions. The transaction record can be viewed by each stakeholder (in this case, Allie, her client, and presumably the payroll team). The cool thing about blockchain is that it makes cooking the books, refusing payment or other diddly practices pretty tough to pull off. It’s public (to a certain degree), which guarantees transparency, and it’s pretty difficult to hack into the bargain.
In theory, you don’t even need an administrator to run it – just smart contracts and autonomous agents, as Don Tapscott explained at this year’s InterConnect event, which minimizes the risk of human error or deliberate meddling. With an autonomous payment system in place and each transaction recorded and stored securely on a blockchain, it would have been impossible for Mitch to default on Allie’s payments.
Problem #2: intercepting personal information
I’m not sure there’s much the IoT could do about Hedra’s copycat behavior, at least where wardrobe duplication and identical haircuts are concerned, but a smartphone with a decent security access system would at least have put the proverbial kibosh on phone call interception. Even if Allie were to leave her phone lying around the flat, provided it had fingerprint scanning technology, a voice recognition access system or even a decent passcode, Hedra would have a job getting into it.
Problem #3: when you’re held hostage in your own home
Fairly late on in the film, Allie is tied up with duct tape and left briefly alone. She tries to attract attention by turning the TV volume to an unreasonable level, in the hope of prompting a noise complaint and an investigation by the building’s superintendent. The plan almost succeeds, but the super takes so long finding the key to her apartment that Hedra returns in time to head him off, thwarting her discovery and escape.
How often we see similar situations in movies. A life-saving weapon just out of reach. A vital phone call unanswered because the circumstances prevent it. But what if the very failure or inability to respond were to trigger a safety mechanism? Can the IoT offer help to those who can’t help themselves, either through incapacitation or illness?
Emergency first responders and the Internet of Caring Things
One of IBM’s Business Partners, CurrentCare, is doing exactly that. CurrentCare has developed a solution for assisted living, designed to help elderly and vulnerable people maintain their independence at home, while offering them a safety net in case something goes wrong. A variety of sensors and energy monitors on key appliances like doors, kettles, toilets and room-level motion detectors collect data which is analysed by applications on IBM Bluemix. Automated rules determine if something unusual is happening (or not happening), and who to notify – whether a care agency, relative or friend.
Wearables, too, would offer a mobile security solution. A voice-activated smart watch looks innocuous enough, but could be a vital link to the emergency services in a desperate situation. There are even some models that can be operated by wrist movement (as opposed to pinch and swipe finger gestures alone) – perfect for our incapacitated Allie.
So there you have it – how to fix a dodgy client, alert the emergency services when immobilized and escape the clutches of a murderous roommate – all thanks to the IoT.