It was a crisp October day in Short Hills, New Jersey. The leaves on the trees were beginning to transition into an array of yellow and orange tones. Rays of warm sunshine pushed through the fluffy white clouds which offered relief from the hard wind sweeping through the wealthy neighborhood that Nora called home. Nora was a bubbly, young pharmacist living in Short Hills with her furry, long-haired companion, Doug. While Nora frequently participated in social events with her friends and fellow coworkers, she treasured the seclusion her home provided her with. Her two-hundred-foot driveway set her colonial-style home away from the blaring sounds of passing cars, barking dogs, and the bustling existence of the families that surrounded her lively neighborhood. Exquisite stonework accented the tan siding that scaled-down her two-story home. She loved spending her free time in her backyard either sitting by the pool, basking in the warm rays of healing sunshine, or enjoying the shade cast by the many large oak trees which surrounded her property.
When Nora was not spending time with friends or within the boundaries of her property line, she could be found working at the town’s local pharmacy. Nora has always made her career a priority because of the personal fulfillment she gets from helping people. With that in mind, she spent a large amount of her time working and picking up extra hours. On this particular day, one of her coworkers, Denise, asked her if she heard about Schuylkill Innovation’s new high-tech television, the iTelevison 022. She told her coworker she had not heard of the new technology, but that it sounded fascinating. The remainder of her day was like any other Wednesday afternoon, except today she could not keep her mind off this new, revolutionary technology.
Once Nora returned home from the pharmacy, she proceeded to make dinner before sitting down in the living room with her laptop. But still, she could not get this exceptional innovation out of her mind. After minutes of restless twitching and position switching, she realized that she needed to learn more. Once she got herself comfortable on the couch, she looked up the iTelevison 022 on her laptop’s search engine. After browsing through various websites and articles, Nora found that this new television could connect to the internet, download countless popular apps, and has voice recognition which makes it easy to search the internet. These new features intrigue Nora so much that she heads down to her local electronics store and purchases one. The store told Nora that two employees from Schuylkill Innovations would be at her house tomorrow afternoon to set up the television.
What Nora does not know, however, is that Schuylkill Innovations did not have good intentions when they released this product to the public. The head chairmen of the company had malicious plans to use the television as a surveillance system. Schuylkill Innovations planned on collecting audio and video data and analyzing it to understand the daily routine of their unsuspecting customers. Once they believed that they had enough information about a customer, they would plan a robbery on their home during a time when the home is typically vacant.
The next day, Nora welcomed the two set-up employees, Dan and Mark, into her home. Once Nora showed them where the television should be set up, she returned to her home office to answer a few work-related emails. While Dan is setting up the television, Mark is looking around the first floor of Nora’s home for valuable items in visible locations and familiarizing himself with the home’s layout. After finishing their work, they informed Nora before leaving her home.
Nora explored the functions of her new television that night before heading to bed around 11 pm. The next day she woke up and got ready for another normal day at work. However, what Nora did not realize is that from that point forward, her personal life would be monitored by Schuylkill Innovations. For the next five weeks, Schuylkill Innovations collected data about Nora’s daily actions and began to form a layout of her daily life.
The company then launched the next phase of its plan. Schuylkill Innovations sent Mark and Dan back to Nora’s house to see if a robbery of her home would be feasible. Prior to their arrival, Nora received a phone call from Schuylkill Innovations saying that her television is sending them error messages due to a bad connection to the satellite. Nora was not home to greet the employees, but she permitted them to do work on the exterior of her home. When Mark and Dan arrived, they checked the perimeter of her house to see if there was a visible security system. They find a low-tech system that they believed they would be able to disable during the robbery.
Two weeks later, the day of the ever-so anticipated robbery finally came. The technology company predicted that, based on their data, Nora would not be home between the hours of 8 am and 4 pm. During the week, she is typically not home during these hours because she is working her shift at the pharmacy. Mark and Dan, once again, made their way to Nora’s home. Their outward appearance was not suspicious because they arrived at the house in their work attire and work vehicle – khaki pants and a jet-black polo shirt behind the wheel of a white service van.
The two proceeded to walk to the side of Nora’s home where the security system connector was located. They began to attempt to deactivate the system, but the system contained safety features that they were unaware of. After roughly 20 minutes, they were able to disarm the system. Next, they made their way to Nora’s back door and picked the lock. The lock was fairly easy for them to pick because they were able to inspect the sophistication of the lock during their previous visits to Nora’s home. Once inside, they begin to search the home for valuable items that they could easily pack into their bags.
During the break-in, Nora received a text message from the company that runs her security system that says, “Security System has been deactivated. Motion detected inside the home”. After reading that text message, Nora informed her coworkers and boss that she needed to leave work because she believed someone broke into her home. She got into her car and began to drive home. While in the car, Nora called the police and informed them of her concerns.
Ten minutes later Nora arrived back home, followed closely by a dark blue police car. The police officers exited their cars and asked Nora to confirm her concerns about the break-in. The two police officers enter Nora’s home to investigate the situation. After about fifteen minutes, the police emerged from the home with the two suspects in handcuffs. While the police were escorting the criminals to their police car, Nora saw the two men and thought to herself about how they looked very familiar. Nora could not put her finger on how she knew them until she saw the logo on the black polo that they are both wearing. On the left breast of each shirt, there is an embroidered logo that reads “Schuylkill Innovations” in red lettering. This is when she realized that the two men had been to her property a few times before.
Mark and Dan were questioned by investigators at the police station and, after a few long hours of denials and pleas, they eventually confessed that Schuylkill Innovations had been tracking Nora, and many others, through the new television system. They also stated that many robberies had been set up after careful planning. They told the police officers that the data that Schuylkill Innovations was collecting had been used to rob several unsuspecting customers over the course of the past several months.
Later that day, a press conference was held that exposed Schuylkill Innovations and its actions. Many other customers that bought the new television model stepped up and shared their experiences with the company and the robbery that took place at their homes. In the coming weeks, many lawsuits were filed against the company for invasion of privacy, false advertising, and robbery. The head chairmen of the company, along with some of their employees, were arrested for their involvement. The company was unable to survive after the legal action that took place, and it filed for bankruptcy just two months after the scandal went public.
Many of the other customers were able to close the investigations on the robberies that took place in their homes and recover some of their stolen items. Nora was able to return to her normal life, sitting by the pool in the sunshine and returning her possessions to their rightful place within her home. However, moving forward Nora decided to upgrade her security system, which included installing cameras inside and outside of her home. And she vowed to never, ever, buy another smart tv again.
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Silva, Robert. “Smart Tvs: What You Need to Know.” Lifewire, Dotdash Meredith, 1 Feb. 2022, www.lifewire.com/what-is-a-smart-tv-4140172. Accessed 16 Mar. 2022.