Is the Future Wearables Will Be the Next Privacy Minefield?



Proliferation of wearables is accelerating privacy concerns over personalized health.

Wearable technology these days has become a popular culture when the advent of wearable products like the Apple Watch, Fitbit and others have entered daily lives from health-oriented. Wearable devices monitor heart rate, sleep and track steps. However, the surging use of such devices are also creating data privacy concerns over personal lives and healthcare rules and regulations. Wearable devices are typically equipped with high-quality sensors that enable an adversary to gather personal information about a user such as location, physiological and emotional behaviors and more.

Users use wearables and smartwatches for a different variety of daily activities such as fitness tracking, schedule management, quick texts and emails reply and many more. But they may not aware of the privacy risks posed by these wearable devices or have severe misconceptions about privacy concerning these devices. With these emerging privacy minefields, there are various questions raised. Who is holding the data collected through devices? Could the data be shared with or sold to third parties? And is there any regulation pertaining to that data privacy? 

In this context, tech companies and healthcare providers must explain and answer clearly where and how this data is being used if consumers are to sign up.


Facebook’s First AR Glasses 

Recently, at its Oculus Connect live stream event, social network giant Facebook gave a glimpse of its first AR glasses, a research project called Aria. As this project is still in its early stages, the glasses have no display, but they are equipped with numerous sensors and microphones that record video, audio and even its users’ eye movements. This is intended to assist scientists at Facebook’s Reality Labs to understand how AR can work in practice.

But this move, if once come to real life, would not have always presence over a person’s personal life? Facebook already published a blog considering privacy. But the company didn’t mention how it will use this data or what type of research it will be used for. 

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) noted a serious concern over such devices saying that eye-tracking alone has numerous implications beyond the core functions of an AR or VR headset. Our eyes can indicate how we’re thinking and feeling, not just what we’re looking at, Karissa Bell mentioned in her article published on Engadget.


Wearables Set to Skyrocket

According to new research from Juniper Research, wearables, including health trackers and remote patient monitoring devices, are set to become ‘must-haves’ in delivering healthcare. The report forecasts US$20 billion to be spent annually on these devices by 2023. On the other side, assistive hearables, or connected hearing aids made available through healthcare providers, as well as directly to customers at varying price models, will generate over US$40 revenues by 2022 for the industry.