Earlier, assimilating personal information including body temperature, pressure, diabetes level, weight etc. by body worn devices was limited to specific police forces trials, or to those who could afford the expensive body worn specialist equipment. However, recent technological progress in hardware industry gave birth to wearable technology – a revolutionary platform for technologies that allows its users worn close to their body, on their body or even in the body to get their personal information and other data. In coming years, industry analysts are expecting that it may well become as common and as popular as mobile phones, smartphones and tablets are, which in turn, will persuade more technology companies start creating and bringing out new devices based on wearable technology to use personal information of users and make their life easier.
Moreover, many countries have already shown steep growth in number of users, who are using Wearable devices to know their health related information. In the UK more than one million people are already familiar with the range of smart bands to track useful health information, such as heart rate, running speed, blood pressure etc. And, everyone wearing smart bands considers it as a standard watch. The reason for its increased popularity and high adoption rate is it helps people in improving their health issues like – find out how many calories they burn off, which help them in planning their next diet plans and route. Apart, from showing your health information, wearable technology has come up with some of the very interesting and useful features like – it allows users to not only view their health data on their computer screens but also let them share their personal data with others, which help them in keeping check on their health conditions in a better way. Wearable technology experts have created this online functionalities by considering the fact that some functions might efficiently performed using online services, such as plotting your route on a map after your run, sharing and processing others’ health information to compare your health stats with others, might be more efficiently performed using an online service.
Google Glass is also one of the exceptional products that are designed to take this processing of gathering personal information through wearable computing to the next level. And, it’s been expected that as Wearable technology develops, people will undoubtedly show more interests in knowing their personal information that these outstanding products are capable of assembling and transmitting. With the launch of these wearable devices one of the most important questions that arose is- Whether these products will get ample notice and wider acceptance or not? For instance, according to a recent media reports in the US some bar owners in San Francisco have already forbidden Google Glass from their premises due to users’ concerns over being filmed without their knowledge. However, companies and brands in the UK are considering their own response.
Wearable technology: future of digitization or a threat to privacy?
Some skeptics and industry experts are having an important debate on the privacy implications of wearable devices because it is designed ultimately for people and is dealing with one of the most sensitive information of humans i.e. their personal health information. So, it’s important that it should not have privacy implications and definitely should be comfortable to wear. Many countries has laws for any new technology, it must operate in compliance with the law. For instance, in the UK, any new technology or devices operate must in line with the requirements of the UK Data Protection Act. And, that goes with Wearable Technology too. According to law if anyone using wearable technology for their own use then they are not breaching the Act. This is because the Act says it’s not wrong to collect personal information for domestic purposes. But, if you start using this information for other purposes other than your personal use, such as to support a local campaign or to start a business, then you are violating the law and you are punishable for this offence.
However, this does not applies for organizations, which use wearable technology to process personal information because according to law organizations processing consumers’ personal information collected by these devices is in compliance with the legislation. But, organizations need to ensure that people whose data are being collected are informed about how their details are being collected and used and any information that is being collected needs to be kept securely and deleted once it is no longer required, then only processing of information is allowed.
The launch and rise of wearable technology has brought exciting new possibilities and is expected to become pervasive in the coming years. But for leveraging this technology, brands and companies must not ignore the fact that like any new technology wearable technology and devices too work in compliance with the law and consumers’ personal information must be used securely and wisely.