The wearables market is set to rise from $1.5 billion to $5 billion by 2016 according to research by Gartner. However with the introduction of a new technology, and one that has been growing as rapidly as wearables, concerns about privacy naturally arise. Wearables differ from other technologies principally in the data that they track and acquire, all of which is very personal data never previously monitored on such a large scale.
Challenges of privacy and wearables can come in a multitude of issues, the most prevalent these days being social privacy. Wearables, particularly smartglasses like Google Glass, allow users to take photos anywhere and everywhere they go, creating an intrusive quality about them to many. However, much like the introduction of mobile phones with cameras, the technology merely needed some social adjusting. The idea is the same with wearables, and as Thad Starner, the director of the Contextual Computing Group at the Georgia Institute of Technology and a technical adviser to the Google Glass team, states “Most people are not talking about privacy here, they are talking about social appropriateness.”
Other concerns of privacy that seem more topical to today’s political issues all revolve around the prevalence of individualized, and sensitive data. Many wearables, particularly fitness trackers and associated health-centered wearables, collect vast amounts of information and then store it in the cloud for later use. However, there is often unclear information as to who actually owns this data, whether it can be sold to third parties, or even if it is secure. Time will tell as wearables become more mainstream whether there needs to be serious concern over the data they collect, and whether our privacy is a thing of the past. We fully expect data security to be a major opportunity for wearables industry players, leading to new protective measures and product offerings for consumers and enterprises alike.